View of downtown Los Angeles from Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California.
From Google to Meta, here are some famous businesses that changed their names. — Getty Images/Barry Winiker

If you’re looking to rebrand your business due to declining revenue or changing customer preferences, changing your company’s name is one way to do it. Here are 10 examples of famous businesses that changed their names.

[Read more: How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business]

WW

In 2018, Weight Watchers rebranded itself as WW in an attempt to move away from any associations with dieting. The company was looking to shift its focus to wellness and overall health. CEO Mindy Grossman said the name WW was a way to pay homage to the company’s history, but that it didn’t stand for anything in particular.

Meta

In 2021, the social media giant Facebook made headlines for changing its name to Meta. The app Facebook kept its original name, but it’s now one of several companies under the Meta umbrella.

The move was meant to signify the company’s transition beyond social media into the metaverse. However, Facebook was also under a large amount of scrutiny at the time. This led many people to speculate that the name change was a way to distance itself from negative publicity.

[Read more: Doing Business As: What It Means to Register a DBA]

Subway

Subway was originally founded in 1965 under the name Pete’s Super Submarines. The founder Fred DeLuca received a $1,000 investment from Dr. Peter Buck to start the shop and the company was originally named after him. But customers found the name hard to pronounce, and it was changed to Subway in 1968.

Altria

In 2003, the tobacco company Philip Morris changed its name to Altria. The company claimed the name change was intended to help customers see that it sold a wide variety of products in addition to cigarettes. But many people assumed the change was a PR move to distance itself from the fact that it sold tobacco.

When the company began in 1996, it was originally called BackRub. By 1997, the founders had ditched that name in favor of Google.

Google

In 2015, Google rebranded itself as Alphabet, which was meant to be a holding company for its various other businesses. The company did this primarily to give its investors and shareholders clarity around its many business endeavors.

However, many people don’t realize that this wasn’t the first time the company changed its name. When the company began in 1996, it was originally called BackRub. By 1997, the founders had ditched that name in favor of Google.

Apple

When Apple was first founded by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak in 1976, it was known as Apple Computers. But in 2007, Jobs announced the company was changing its name to Apple to focus more on consumer electronics.

[Read more: The Most Common Business Entities for Startups]

Pepsi-Cola

Pepsi-Cola was founded in 1893 by a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham. He named the company after himself, calling it Brad’s Drink. In 1898, the company was renamed to Pepsi-Cola, which became one of the best-known brands in the world.

Nike

In 1964, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded Blue Ribbon Sports in Beaverton, Oregon. The company was originally founded as a distributor of running shoes, but the founders later decided to manufacture and distribute their own shoes. The company launched its Nike shoe brand in 1972, and then renamed the company Nike in 1978.

eBay

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, originally launched the site under the name AuctionWeb. The site was "dedicated to bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace."

The company continued to steadily grow and gain media coverage. The media often referred to the company as eBay, which prompted the company to change its name.

Netflix

And finally, let’s look at an example of an unsuccessful name change. In 2011, Netflix attempted to split its business in two — Netflix would offer streaming services while its DVD-by-mail service would be called Qwikster.

However, both customers and investors disliked the change, and the company’s stock fell steeply. The company quickly did a U-turn and went back to its original name and business model.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Make smart decisions. Make your mark.

Access all your business apps in one place with COmpass, our free single sign-on platform for small business. View all your apps and data in one dashboard, so you can make informed decisions and grow your business.

Subscribe Now

Brought to you by SquareStack

Published August 12, 2022