Many brand names have captivating stories on how they came to life ranging from intense and laborious creative thinking to pure chance which can make the process look easy. A closer look shows us that naming is never as easy as it looks, even when the brand name was born by putting letters together on a tissue after a late dinner.
And while a lot has been written about the companies established from the 1950s onwards, some of the brands born later or in the digital age have amazing stories that were less shared in the popular culture. We’ll look at some of these:
Sara Blakely founded Spanx in 2000 in Atlanta as a brand of shapewear that has slimming and smoothing effects under clothing. According to Blakely, she chose the name “Spanx” because she wanted a name that was short, catchy, and memorable. She also liked that the name was edgy and could potentially generate some buzz.
Coined names are made-up names that can use associations for memorability like syllables rhythm or meaning of the whole word or parts of it. Constructed names are easier to trademark and the Spanx founder applied for a trademark herself and before researching the process. Today, Spanx is a well-known and successful brand of shapewear and undergarments.
Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp founded Pinterest in 2010 as a platform for users to share and save visual content. The name “Pinterest” is a combination of “pin” (as in pinning something to a bulletin board) and “interest” and it started as a replacement of printed catalogs.
Patagonia is a US-based outdoor clothing and gear brand founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973. The name comes from the region in South America that spans parts of Argentina and Chile, which is known for its rugged landscapes and extreme weather conditions. Chouinard was inspired by a trip to Patagonia in the 1960s and decided to name his new company after the region. The name is a strong part of the brand story, personality, and of the sustainability aspect that stays at the core of their business.
Allbirds is a US-based shoe brand founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger in 2016. The name relates to New Zealand, the country of “all birds” and to the fact that their shoes are made from sustainable materials like wool, which comes from a natural source. The brand’s mission is to create comfortable and stylish shoes that are also environmentally friendly.
The most popular music streaming platform in the world was founded in Sweden in 2006. The name “Spotify” is a combination of “spot” and “identify,” and was meant to represent the service’s ability to help users discover new music. The community building aspect and the fun have always been part of the brand DNA and intimately linked to the brand name.
Veja is a French sneaker brand founded by Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion in 2005. The “Veja” comes from the Portuguese word for “look,” which represents the brand’s focus on transparency and ethical production. Veja’s sneakers are made from sustainable materials like organic cotton and wild rubber, and the brand is committed to fair work practices and to reducing its environmental impact.
TOMS is a US-based shoe brand founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006. The name is short for “Tomorrow’s Shoes,” which represents the brand’s mission to create a better tomorrow through sustainable and ethical business practices. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need, a model many companies adopted such as Warby Parker.
Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber in 2009 as a ride-sharing platform. The name “Uber” is a German word that means “above” or “over,” and was chosen to suggest that the service was “above” traditional taxi companies and above all that the industry knew before. Uber definitely shaped the sharing economy in many ways, some controversial but their name has always been a strong intangible asset due to its universal connotation of “better”.
- Pura Vida
Pura Vida is a US-based jewellery and accessories brand founded by Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman in 2010. The name “Pura Vida” comes from the Costa Rican phrase meaning “pure life,” which represents the brand’s focus on living a free, adventurous lifestyle. Pura Vida is known for its colorful, handmade bracelets and its commitment to supporting artisans around the world.
- Sweaty Betty
Sweaty Betty is a UK-based activewear brand founded by Tamara Hill-Norton in 1998. The name “Sweaty Betty” was inspired by a nickname that Tamara’s friends gave her while she was training for a triathlon. As she trained, Tamara noticed that there was a lack of stylish and high-quality activewear options for women, which led her to start her own brand. When it was the time to name the brand, Tamara decided to embrace her nickname “Sweaty Betty” and use it as a way to celebrate women who love fitness. Today, Sweaty Betty is known for its stylish and functional activewear, and the name has become synonymous with a strong, confident, and active lifestyle.
Depop is a UK-based social shopping app founded by Simon Beckerman in 2011. The name “Depop” is short for “decentralized pop-up shop,” which represents the app’s focus on creating a global marketplace for vintage and second-hand fashion. Depop is popular with Gen Z for its sustainable and affordable fashion options and its community-driven platform.
Glossier is a US-based beauty brand founded by Emily Weiss in 2014. The name “Glossier” comes from the idea of products that enhance natural beauty and give skin a healthy, glowing “gloss.” The brand is known for its minimalist packaging and Instagram-friendly aesthetic.
At Onomatopy, we create brand names that are relevant, strong and unique. We always pre-test for trademark availability and domain names. Drop us a line to ask us about our process.