Tesla Drops “Motors.” What’s Next?

Tesla just announced that it is dropping “Motors” from its name to signal that it’s moving into  businesses other than cars. They will, at least in the foreseeable future, be an unparalleled sustainable energy company. However, at the pace they are moving, one can only imagine what businesses they might ultimately be in. Will that name hold?

Apple did this several years ago by changing its name from Apple Computer to Apple. Obviously, this was a smart move that helped them broaden their portfolio of products and services.

There are many reason why a company might move to change its name —an obvious one being a legal issue.  Beyond that, changes can be driven by consumer trends, broadening portfolios, over-coming negative perceptions, or just trying to stay relevant. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC to avoid healthy consumers thinking about fried food. Or Philip Morris created new name, Altria, to be known as more than just a cigarette manufacturer, but a portfolio of businesses.

 

 

 

So, for fun, below are a list of several companies that completely changed their names. Can you identify who they are today?

AuctionWeb

BackRub

Blue Ribbon Sports

Brad’s Drink

Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation

Confinity

Datsun

Firebird

Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web

Lucky and Goldstar Co.

Pete’s Super Submarines

Quantum Computer Services

Sound of Music

Stag Party

Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo

ValuJet

Wards Company

 

If you think about these things and are considering a business transformation, step back and look at your name.

There are interesting stories behind how these names became the ones we know today. How many did you know?

AuctionWeb, the first on-line marketplace, became eBay

BackRub was the original name for Google, based on the mathematical term “googol”,1 followed by 100 zeros

Blue Ribbon Sports was the business that became Nike

Brad’s Drink was the original name of a soft drink developed by a pharmacist that became Pepsi-Cola

Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation evolved into IBM, the name of its Canadian subsidiary

Confinity, started as a Palm Pilot payment company, renamed itself to become PayPal

Datsun today is Nissan based on the strategy to unify many products one-der one brand

Firebird is the original name for Firefox, changed for legal reasons

Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web became Yahoo, standing for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”

Lucky and Goldstar Co. is today LG Electronics

Pete’s Super Submarines is known today as Subway

Quantum Computer Services is today AOL, a shortening of America Online

Sound of Music became Best Buy, based on a successful fire sale after a tornado hit the company’s main store promising “best buys” on everything

Stag Party was the original name for Playboy after a law suit was threatened by Stag Magazine

Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was a radio repair shop that is known for making the first transistor radio, and today is known as SONY

ValuJet became AirTran after a well-publicized plane crash. Today it is part of Southwest.

Wards Company adopted the name of a retail format they owned to become Circuit City

Leave a Reply