Kibble, Backrub, Brad’s Drink and Picaboo: Elon Musk’s switch from Twitter to X is not the first big firm to change names but can you guess what these obscure titles became?
- The brand titles Kibble, Backrub, Brad’s Drink and Picaboo may not ring any bells – but they are now some of the world’s biggest brands
Elon Musk’s decision to rebrand Twitter and ditch its bird for the name and logo X is not the first time a big firm has changed its name.
The brand titles Kibble, Backrub, Brad’s Drink and Picaboo may not ring any bells – but they are now some of the world’s biggest brands.
Many of the companies decided to go for catchier names for their brands that would roll off the tongue in their very early days – rather than obscure names like Cadabra and Blue Ribbon Sports.
Musk appears to be going against that grain – and choosing to go from the household name Twitter to the much simpler ‘X’.
Here MailOnline takes a look at some of the unexpected original names of the world’s most famous brands.
Google is a company known around the world – but it originally had the obscure name of BackRub.
Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s first foray into the world of search engines in 1996 was called ‘BackRub’ because the program analysed the web’s ‘back links’ to understand how important a website was.
But a year later, Page was questioning the name BackRub for their rapidly improving search technology and set up a brainstorming session with other graduate students at Stanford University, including Sean Anderson, to work out a better name.
It was Sean that came up with the name google.com – and from there, Google was born.
Google is a company known around the world – but it originally had the obscure name of BackRub
When Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph founded what we now know as Netflix in November 1997, they called their company ‘Kibble’ – a term for dog food.
The name Kibble had been a placeholder – or their working title – and had been inspired by the old marketing saying that ‘it doesn’t make a difference how good the ads are if the dogs don’t eat the dog food’.
But as the months went on, the team had still not come up with a permanent name – and Randolph eventually called a team meeting where they eventually came up with Netflix.com.
Amazon was incorporated by CEO Jeff Bezos in 1995, but it was originally an online bookstore called ‘Cadabra’ in a reference to the word ‘abracadabra’.
In his book ‘The Everything Store’, Brad Stone writes how Bezos’ lawyer had pointed out at the time that ‘Cadabra’ was too obscure of a name.
The lawyer also pointed out how sometimes it sounded like ‘Cadaver’ – another word for a dead body.
Amazon was incorporated by CEO Jeff Bezos in 1995, but it was originally an online bookstore called ‘Cadabra’ in a reference to the word ‘abracadabra’
In the years that followed, Bezos and his then-wife MacKenzie Tuttle, looked at different names and registered the domain names Awake.com, Browse.com and Bookmall.com.
But Bezos went through the dictionary and landed on the word ‘Amazon’, the name of the largest river in the world, and decided to name his company – the world’s largest bookstore – after it.
In the town of New Bern, North Carolina, pharmacist Caleb Bradham came up with the original formula of what would become known as Pepsi.
But instead of it being what we know now as Pepsi, it was called ‘Brad’s Drink’ for years.
As the popularity of the beverage grew, Bradham gave the drink a more catchy name and settled on ‘Pepsi-Cola’ in 1903. He began serving Pepsi at his pharmacy in Bern.
And from there, Bradham’s company grew, with the pharmacist selling the drink to pharmacies across North Carolina by 1903. More than 70 years later, in 1977, Pepsi-Cola became the most popular cola drink in supermarkets.
In July 2011, Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphey launched ‘Picaboo’ – a social media app that enabled users to post photos and videos that disappeared after a few seconds.
Spiegel and Murphey had asked Brown to write the code to build the app, but shortly after their launch of ‘Picaboo’ they forced him out of the company and relaunched as ‘Snapchat’ in September 2011.
Brown later settled with the two co-founders for $157 million in September 2014.
Sound of Music
The retailer Best Buy was originally founded by Richard Schulze and James Wheeler in 1966 as an audio specialty store called Sound of Music in St Paul, Minnesota. They sold stereos, speakers, vinyl records and other products related to music.
But in 1981, a tornado slammed into the Minneapolis suburbs and destroyed the Sound of Music store.
‘It was the worst thing that could happen to us,’ company founder Dick Schulze recounted in his book Becoming the Best: A Journey of Passion, Purpose and Perseverance. But, he added: ‘It was the best thing that could happen to us.’
The retailer Best Buy was originally founded by Richard Schulze and James Wheeler in 1966 as an audio specialty store called Sound of Music in St Paul, Minnesota
Within a couple of hours of the store being torn apart, the Sound of Music employees rallied together to help clean and salvage items that could be saved.
Dick and his team decided to hold a sale of the items at a massively discounted price at a parking lot – along with the slogan ‘Best Buy’.
Almost everything was sold and the team decided to sell a greater volume of merchandise from new locations. Two years after the tornado struck, Dick renamed the store ‘Best Buy’.
Paris-born entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar founded Auction Web in 1995 and created the code for it before the site was launched.
It was the first online auction site of its kind – and Omidyar’s first sale was a laser pointer, which sold for $14.83.
‘Auction Web’ took off immediately and by June 1996, the total value of merchandise sold on the site reached $7.2million.
It wasn’t until September 1997 that Omidyar renamed the site eBay.
Paris-born entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar founded Auction Web in 1995 and created the code for it before the site was launched
When Instagram was created in October 2012 by Kevin Systrom, it was called Burbn. The name Burbn was inspired by Systom’s love of Bourbon whisky.
He created the app which allowed people to share where they had been with check-ins and pictures, including the best spots for Bourbon whiskey.
In 2010, Systrom went to a party for Silicon Valley startups where he acquired investments for his app – and he later met Mike Krieger, who became his co-founder of what became known as Instagram.
They moved away from focusing on check-ins and instead on sharing photos and changed the name to Instagram – a play on the words instant camera and telegram.
When Instagram was created in October 2012 by Kevin Systrom, it was called Burbn
‘We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing,’ Systrom said. ‘We got a entire version of Burbn done as an iPhone app but it felt cluttered and overrun with features.
‘It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram.’
Blue Ribbon Sports
Nike was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Browerman, a track-and-field coach at the University of Oregan, and his former student Phil Knight. They both wanted to create better quality running shoes.
In 1963, Knight had travelled to Japan where he scheduled a meeting with Japanese running shoe manufacturer Tiger. Knight presented himself as a representative of a US distributor interested in selling Tiger trainers to Americans.
When asked which US distributor he represented, Knight quickly said Blue Ribbon Sports – and so the name was born.
By 1996 Bowerman and Knight launched their first retail outlet and launched the Nike brand show in 1972. They renamed the company Nike, Inc, in 1978 before going public two years later.
Nike was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Browerman, a track-and-field coach at the University of Oregan, and his former student Phil Knight. They both wanted to create better quality running shoes
The US convenience store chain 7-Eleven was founded in 1927 as an ice house storefront in Dallas, Texas. But it had the name Tote’m Stores between 1928 and 1946.
The company’s name was changed from Tote’m Stores to 7-Eleven to reflect the company’s new, extended hours from 7am to 11pm, seven days per week.
The department store Target was originally called Goodfellow Dry Goods when it was founded by George Dayton in June 1902.
Dayton’s first Goodfellow Dry Goods store opened in Roseville, Minnesota in 1962 while the parent company was renamed to Dayton-Hudson Corporation in 1967.
It wasn’t until 2000 that the Dayton-Hudson Corporation was renamed to what is now known as Target.
Tinder is now a dating app that is used by millions of users worldwide – but not many people know that it originally started out as ‘Match Box’.
The prototype of Match Box was built in 2012 by co-founder Sean Rad and engineer Joe Munoz during a hackathon hosted by a startup company.
But Rad and his co-founders Justin Matteen and Whitney Wolfe realised that the name ‘Match Box’ was too similar to their competitor Match.com and renamed the company Tinder.
Their flame-themed logo remained the same throughout the rebranding.
Tinder is now a dating app that is used by millions of users worldwide – but not many people know that it originally started out as ‘Match Box’
On Sunday, Elon Musk announced he was rebranding Twitter effective immediately – changing the site’s name to ‘X’ and the platform’s iconic blue bird logo to the letter as well.
The change, announced in a series of tweets from Tesla and SpaceX leader, serves the latest in a series of shake-ups to the social media platform since Musk, 52, purchased it late last year.
The CEO first alluded to some big changes to the site – which has been fighting reduced usership and increased competition in recent months – early Sunday morning, revealing the bird logo would soon be replaced with a plain ‘X’.
On Sunday, Elon Musk announced he was rebranding Twitter effective immediately – changing the site’s name to ‘X’ and the platform’s iconic blue bird logo to the letter as well
Musk has since changed his profile picture to the company’s new logo, which he described as ‘minimalist art deco,’ and his Twitter bio to ‘X.com,’ which now redirects to twitter.com.
Founded in 2006, Twitter takes its name from the sound of birds chattering, and it has used avian branding since its early days, when the company bought a stock symbol of a light blue bird for $15, according to the design website Creative Bloq.
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