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Sometimes your favorite brands and companies were known as something else when they first got started. Here are 12 companies that had to change their name.
- ValuJet to AirTran. In 1997, ValuJet changed its name to AirTran after a horrific plane crash. Public opinion forced ValuJet to close its doors for a month before re-emerging as AirTran, a former rival the company purchased to change its image.
- Sound of Music to Best Buy. It was a stereo store that was hit with a tornado in 1981. After the storm, they were forced to put the remaining stereo stock in a parking lot in an impromptu “Torando Sale” to generate revenue off the surviving back stock. The company made more money during the sale than they did during the whole year. They attributed the success to their new signs that read “Best Buys,” so the company changed its name to reflect the success.
- Brad’s Drink to Pepsi-Cola. In 1893, a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham invented a new soft drink that he called Brad’s Drink. Over the years, he started to change its name to Pepsi-Cola because the soft drink gave drinkers a pep.
- Sci-Fi Channel to SyFy. The Sci-Fi Channel couldn’t make money off their name because it’s in the public domain, so to rebrand the network, they changed the name to SyFy in 2009.
- BackRub to Google. Before creators Larry Page and Serge Brin started Google in 1998, the pair called their new Internet company BackRub two years earlier. They changed the name as a play on the world “googol,” which is a mathematical term for the number one with 100 zeros behind it. It would represent the endless possibilities in a new Internet search engine.
- Research in Motion to Blackberry. At one time, Research in Motion was the leader in mobile technology, but over the years their sales started to decline with advent of the iPhone and Android. To get away from the bad brand recognition, Research in Motion (or RIM) changed its name to Blackberry.
- Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo to Sony. In 1946, a Japanese radio repair company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo changed its name to Sony when the company started to expand its reach outside of Japan.
- DrivUrSelf to Hertz Rent-A-Car. John Hertz started a car rental service in 1923, before GM bought the company and later Omnibus Corporation. Hertz changed the name from DrivUrSelf to Hertz Rent-A-Car in 1926.
- Pete’s Super Submarines to Subway. Pete’s Super Submarines opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965. Co-Founders Peter Buck and Fred DeLuca didn’t find success with their business until they changed its name to Subway.
- AuctionWeb to eBay. In 1995, founder Pierre Omidyar had four Internet companies under the eBay Internet umbrella and one of them was called AuctionWeb. When the site started getting some success, news reports called the site eBay instead of AuctionWeb out of confusion. The name stuck in the mind’s of users, so the company officially changed the name to eBay in 1997.
- Marafuku Company to Nintendo. In 1889, Marafuku Company made playing cards and eventually changed its name to Nintendo Playing Card Company in 1951. Twelve years later, the company started making computer games, so it changed its name to simply Nintendo.
- Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike. Originally, the show company was a distributor for Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger in the United States. Its founders wanted to branch off and make their own sneakers, so they changed their name to Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory.