Quiz: Brand Name Origins

Many companies pick brand names for reasons that only they understand. Some names just feel good on the tongue or will look strong on packaging. OXO, for instance, was named by kitchen tool founder Sam Farber, because it was easy to pronounce in any language, spelled the same in any direction – forward, backward and upside down, and fit on any size packaging. This quiz challenges you to match the brand name with the clues below, and then identify the original source for the names.

  1. Founder’s daughter
  2. African animal
  3. Store hours
  4. Danish king
  5. Founder’s name
  6. Buddhist goddess
  7. Danish word
  8. Digestive enzyme
  1. Writing tool
  2. Moby Dick character
  3. Communications product.
  4. German car
  5. A product perfected on its final try
  6. Character in Gulliver’s Travels
  7. Japanese word for danger.
  8. Roman god of fire

Name Origin
  1. P – Wendy’s, the fast-food chain, was the nickname of founder Dave Thomas’s daughter Melinda.
  2. I – Reebok, spelled “rhebok” in Afrikaan, is the word for antelope or gazelle.
  3. D – 7-Eleven was originally called U-tote’m, but in 1946 it was renamed to reflect its new extended hours — 7am to 11pm.
  4. J – Bluetooth is named after the 10th-century Danish king, Harald Bluetooth, who united Scandinavia.
  5. O – Bridgestone is the exact English translation of the tire company’s Japanese founder, Shojiro Ishibashi (stone+bridge).
  6. A – Canon is the English pronunciation of Kwanon, so-named by the Japanese camera maker for the Buddhist goddess of mercy. An image of the goddess served as Kwanon’s first logo.
  7. K – Lego is the Danish word for “play well.” Coincidentally, “lego” also means “I put together” in Latin.
  8. M – Pepsi takes its name from the digestive enzyme, pepsin, which relieves gastric discomfort.
  9. G – Sharp described the founder’s first invention of an ever-sharp mechanical pencil.
  10. L – Starbucks takes its name from the first mate on the whaling ship, Pequod, in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It was not a mermaid as suggested in the coffeemaker’s logo.
  11. N – Vodafone is based on the communication company’s voice, data and phone services.
  12. C – Volkswagen means “people’s car” in German.
  13. H – WD-40 stands for “water displacement” and the perfecting of the product on the fortieth try.
  14. B – Yahoo! was coined by Jonathan Swift to describe a rude, noisy and violent character is Gulliver’s Travels.
  15. F – Atari, which pioneered video games, takes its name from the Japanese word for “danger” in the strategy game Go.
  16. E – Arm & Hammer, the baking soda manufacturer, takes its name and logo from the symbol for Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The name has nothing to do with the famed industrialist Armand Hammer.