Katie and Esther discuss the importance of brand. Founding stories, folklore and rumors all contribute to company histories. Did Steve Jobs live in a commune with apple trees? What was More Noyce? And you’ll never guess the story behind Nintendo. How do you get the “Apple” or “Google” name? It’s not what you think—in fact, some of these stories are stranger than fiction. (“That didn’t work so they opened a chain of LOVE HOTELS!!”)
Katie: Welcome back to the BusinessMakers Overtime Show heard here and online and theBusinessMakers.com. Esther and I are back here for a rousing Chapter 3 where we're going to be revisiting the age old Shakespearian question, "What's in a name?"
Esther: What is in a name?
Katie: What is in a name? (Laughter)
Esther: That's the question. You know, there's this great article right now at BusinessInsider.com and it's talking about how some of the most recognizable brands in the entire world got their names. You know, I think a lot of times companies sit and they think, "What's the perfect name? How do I get that "Apple" name, that "Google" name, that "Hewlett Packard", that's just so recognizable. How do I get that name?" It's like, the way they came with the names of these companies is not that cool. That's what makes it cool -
Esther: - is that the story is like, not that good. I mean you would think you know, "Apple - they sat together in think-tank and they brainstormed all day and they tried to come up with something awesome, and then out pops Apple and all of their brand recognition and their strategy." No, that didn't happen. It is not at all what happened. In fact, the article talks about Apple, particularly about how Steve Jobs said, "If you can't come up with something better by 12:00, I'm calling it Apple."
Katie: That's right. And it's interesting 'cause the Apple name story is highly disputed across the Web. So some people say like you just said, that the company is three months late in filing for a name and trademark. So Steve Jobs is like, "You know what, like it's gonna be Apple, let's do it." Other people say, and this is my favorite one, that Steve Jobs (Laughter) - and this makes me love him so much more even - that he lived in some hippy commune and they had a giant apple orchard, and that when he came back Wozniak is like you know, "This is just what we're gonna call the company." And then there's other stories that Steve Jobs just really likes to eat apples and that's his favorite fruit.
Esther: Oh my gosh.
Katie: So it's funny that even -
Esther: I love the lore.
Katie: Exactly it's a legend.
Esther: Internet folklore. It's amazing.
Katie: One of the more highly disputed for sure. (Laughter)
Esther: Also one of my favorites is actually the Hewlett Packard story. Basically Hewlett and Packard flipped a coin to decide whose name was gonna come first. If the coin had landed on tails we would have had Packard Hewlett and who knows if the company would have been as successful.
Esther: It's like freakonomics, you never know.
Katie: Yeah, exactly. You just never know. So Intel's another interesting one. Initially the Intel co-founders Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to call the new company Moore Noyce; that's N-O-Y-C-E. But -
Esther: That's stupid.
Katie: - and this is weird (Laughter) - young lady, don't you say that. (Laughter) But this is weird though, and I guess we all should have guessed this, that name Moore Noyce was already trademarked by a hotel chain. Like how did that one get snatched up?
Esther: Mmm, random. So random.
Katie: So instead, they went with Intel which stands for "integrated electronics" which like, that's workable you know.
Esther: Yep, makes a lot of sense.
Katie: It makes sense. Like once you realize what it stand for it's like, "Ah-ha." So way better choice than Moore Noyce. (Laughter)
Katie: So another one, and I actually went a little crazy and started researching these online 'cause -
Esther: Oh my gosh.
Katie: - I think one of my favorite things about being involved with the BusinessMakers and Overtime Show is those founding stories you know, the lore behind small, medium, and large businesses. So I went out and found Warren. (Laughter)
Esther: Tell me.
Katie: So this one's one of my favorites. Hitachi actually stands for "sunrise" in Japanese.
Katie: That's so something that I would call a company. (Laughter)
Esther: Very nice.
Katie: Nabisco is basically a derivative of its old name "The National Biscuit Company".
Katie: Nabisco. Like that totally makes sense. Totally.
Esther: Very cool.
Katie: Nokia - and this is one I didn't know - the company originally started as a wood-pulp mill and then they later expanded into producing rubber products in the finished city of Nokia, and the company later adopted its hometown city's name.
Katie: Isn't that interesting?
Esther: That is.
Katie: Like Nokia of all things, that sounds like some sort of finished like techy electronic term.
Katie: But no, not so much. It's a city.
Esther: Very cool.
Katie: It's a city.
Esther: What else did you find?
Katie: So, this one's another one of my favorites, the company Red Hat. The founder was given a Cornell Lacrosse Team cap by his grandfather; and of course the Cornell colors are red and white. And unfortunately, he actually ended up losing the cap and it had so much sentimental value. People knew him like as "the guy with the red cap" because he wore it constantly. And so he went around, searching for it desperately; and even the initial manual of the Beta version of Red Hat Linux had like a request to its readers to return his red hat if they found it.
Esther: Oh my gosh.
Katie: And because of this hat that his granddad gave him, he named his company Red Hat. Isn't that hilarious?
Esther: Unbelievable. That's a great story.
Katie: (Laughter) Okay. So here's my final and definitely my favorite. I'm a Nintendo junkie; I'm sure I've said that a gazillion times on the show. So Nintendo translated from Japanese to English actually means loosely "Leave Luck to Heaven". And basically what it means is that you don't rely on luck, you rely on hard work to get what you want.
Katie: But, what's even cooler about Nintendo, or weirder depending on how you look at it, is that they didn't actually start off as a video company at all.
Esther: So what did they do?
Katie: They initially started making playing cards, then they moved onto board games; and then that didn't work and they opened up a chain of love hotels. (Laughter)
Katie: Not kidding. Not kidding. And then they went on to become a food company that was selling something kind of like instant rice and instant noodles sort of like Ramen. And then eventually they went through these different manifestations and then they ended up back at - you know, into the gaming world and obviously have dominated it ever since.
Katie: So leave luck to Heaven and -
Katie: Love hotels.
Esther: Yeah, love hotels -
Esther: - great. That's very - did not know that. God I learn something new on this show from you every week.
Katie: I know, right, and usually it's so obscure and unusable. Um, you're welcome. (Laughter)
Esther: Oh, thank you. And I'm sure you listeners out there wanna tell Katie just how excited you are that you learned all this new information, so you should tell her at Twitter.com/overtimeshow or theBusinessMakers.com/overtime.
Katie: And, now we have - I feel like we're moving on up -
Esther: That's right.
Katie: - on Facebook. Of course you can always go back to Facebook.com/theBusinessMakers. Or now you can go to Facebook.com/overtimeshow. Yay!
Katie: So come and be our fan. You'll get to see a lot of the links that we talk about during the show. We're going to be posting them once our shows are live. We're gonna be having some trivia, some Q&A, we're gonna be soliciting information, ideas, all of the above from you -
Katie: - specifically from our Facebook account. It's very exciting.
Esther: Very good. Well we'll see you next week. You've been listening to the BusinessMakers Overtime Show heard here and online and theBusinessMakers.com. I'm Esther Steinfeld -
Katie: And I'm Katie Laird, that's really my name.
Esther: Ah, yeah, we'll see ya next week.