Brands have been with us for centuries in the form of symbols or heraldry, but they came into their own once the Industrial Revolution kicked off. The Victorian age produced a burgeoning middle class which was hungry to spend its money on all manner of products, from food to grooming to housewares and beyond.
Regular tradesfolk could not keep up with all this demand, and factories began to be formed that could churn out far more product. However, regulation was weak, and a lot of products were not what they claimed to be, or had worthless or even dangerous ingredients. Brands were the inevitable result: names that everyone recognized, that told you the quality and safety would meet your requirements. People like Josiah Wedgewood with his high-end china, or Joseph Rowntree with his rather more mainstream candies, became all the rage.
Of course, not all brands are in a person's native language, and even some that are, have rather strange names. Many of these are named for the founders, but some are called for that person's dog, for a street they lived on or a landmark they liked, or just a word they thought sounded appropriate. This created a lot of diversity in brand names and in how easy they are to say. How well do you know how to say some of the biggest brand names in the world?
Adidas has its headquarters in Germany where the company was founded in 1924. On a global scale, Adidas is the second-largest sportswear manufacturer (only Nike is bigger). Adidas is, however, the largest in Europe.
IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943 and now has more than 400 stores worldwide. Currently, the largest of IKEA’s stores can be found in South Korea, Sweden and China.
The Chevrolet Motor Company was founded in 1911and got its name from one of its co-founders – Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss race car driver and automotive engineer. The first automobile the company produced was the Series C Classic Six in 1913. Chevrolet has been a division of General Motors Company since 1919.
This French manufacturer specializes in high fashion luxury goods. The company was founded in 1937 by Thierry Hermès when its first products were harnesses and bridles to be used on carriage horses.
This independent family-owned company was founded in 1899 by German engineer Carl Miele and businessman Reinhard Zinkann. The company began production with a cream separator, butter churn and tub washing machine. It is now known worldwide for its high-end domestic appliances and commercial equipment.
Jean Paul Gaultier began his career working for well-known couture stylists then launched his own line in 1976. He has been called the “enfant terrible” of French design, meaning he is very unorthodox yet highly successful.
French designer Hubert de Givenchy founded the Givenchy house of fashion in 1952. According to his website, his first collection which was called “Separates” featured “elegant blouses and breezy skirts.”
Ferruccio Lamborghini founded this Italian luxury automobile company in 1963. The company has since become a subsidiary of German automobile manufacturer, Audi, which is itself a subsidiary of fellow German company, Volkswagen.
Frédéric Fekkai is a French celebrity hairstylist with several luxury salons in France and the U.S. He is also an entrepreneur, selling his own brand of salon hair products, as well as luxury home products.
This Italian luxury goods and jewelry company uses the Latin spelling “BVLGARI” as its trademark. It was founded in 1884 by Sotirios Boulgaris who had previously opened a store in his hometown in Greece. He did not officially start the Bulgari company, however, until he opened his second store in Rome, Italy.
Kérastase was founded in 1964 as a luxury haircare brand. Its parent company is the multinational L'Oréal Group whose CEO at the time was François Dalle.
Technically, Nike was founded in 1964 but up until 1971 it was officially known as Blue Ribbon Sports. The current logo is among the most recognizable of company logos worldwide. It is referred to as the Nike Swoosh.
Italian watch designer Carlo Crocco founded Hublot in1980 as a Swiss luxury watchmaker. The company has since become a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE which is also the parent company for Christian Dior, Bulgari, Givenchy and TAG Heuer, among many others.
Lancôme started out as a fragrance house, launching its first five fragrances in 1935. The company has since become known as a luxury brand of not just perfumes but also skincare products and makeup. It has been a subsidiary of L’Oréal since 1964.
The company’s name is derived from Sebastian Artois who acquired an already-established brewery in 1717 and renamed it Brouwerij Artois (Artois Brewery). His “new” brewery later issued a special batch which was the first to include the word “Stella” (Latin for the “star” symbol on its label).
This South Korean multinational conglomerate takes its name from the South Korean word for “modernity.” Although Hyundai is known to most as a car manufacturer, the company operates in several industries, including finance and insurance; retail; construction and engineering.
Shiseido is one of the oldest and one of the largest companies in the cosmetics industry. The company was founded in 1872 and according to its website, it possesses a “forward-thinking blend of Western science and Eastern wisdom.”
The Filippou family opened its very first dairy shop in Athens, Greece in 1926. The word is both an acronym for the company’s Greek name, as well as a verb meaning “Eat!”
The word “ouai” is the slang pronunciation of “oui” (yes) in French. According to the company’s founder, Jen Atkin, it was chosen specifically as a “conversation piece” where one person is able to correct their friend’s pronunciation of the word.
Saucony (now a subsidiary of Wolverine World Wide) got its start in 1898. As the athletic shoe company’s website points out, that was just one year after the establishment of both the modern Olympic marathon and the Boston Marathon.
La Roche-Posay is a thermal center and a brand of skincare products, both named after a town in Western France. According to legend, the La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water was discovered in the 14th century by a knight whose horse was apparently cured of its eczema after swimming in the water.
33-year-old trunk maker Louis Vuitton started his own company in 1854. At that time, thanks to his past apprenticeship, he already had high-class clientele for whom he made and packed custom boxes.
Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga founded this luxury fashion house in 1919. He served as mentor to several designers who went on to become famous themselves. These include both Oscar de la Renta and Hubert de Givenchy.
Ocado, an online supermarket, was founded in 2000 and after piloting its service, began delivery to 100,000 households in 2002. By 2005, that number reached 10 million.
This multinational computer software company began in the garage of one of its co-founders. The name they chose for their new company was taken from the Adobe Creek, a small river which ran behind the house.
Huawei is a global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. According to the company’s website, their products and services reach more than 170 countries and more than one-third of the world’s total population.
Yves Saint-Laurent co-founded this French luxury fashion house in 1961 and was known for his sexy, forward-thinking designs. Following his retirement in 2002, he was quoted as saying, “I created the contemporary woman's wardrobe.”
This famous German automobile manufacturer was founded in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche. Much of the company’s distinguished reputation comes from its high-performance sports cars and the company’s impressive results in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans automobile races.
Glossier is a beauty products brand launched by Emily Weiss in 2014. The company grew out of a beauty blog which Weiss started in 2010 while she was employed with Vogue magazine.
Bayer, a pharmaceutical and life sciences company, was founded in 1863. At that time, the company consisted of just three employees. By 1881, however, that number had grown to more than 300.
Del Monte, one of the largest food production and distribution companies in the U.S., was founded in 1886. The easy recognizable Del Monte shield, however, was not used until 1909. With the shield, came the company’s assurance that it was “Not a label-but a guarantee.”
Batiste Dry Shampoo is manufactured by Church & Dwight Co, Inc. This is the same company which produces the Arm & Hammer line, Nair and Pepsodent.
French fashion designer Christian Dior, established his own fashion house in 1946. He very first line of fashions was introduced a year later under the title, “Corelle.”
Van Heusen is a division of PVH Corp. Other divisions within this American clothing company include Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
Edouard Heuer founded his watchmaking company in 1860 when he was only 20 years old. Apart from his own surname, he included the letters TAG which are an abbreviation of the phrase “Techniques d'Avant Garde.”
Italian fashion designer Franco Moschino founded his house of fashion in 1983 and was well-known as one of the fashion industry’s harshest critics. Ironically, his designs which were meant to criticize high fashion went on to become extremely popular among the rich and famous, making him very successful in the industry.
Versace international fashion house was founded by Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1978. The company produces clothes, accessories, fragrances and make-up, as well as home furnishings. Gianni Versace died in 1997 after being shot outside his home by a spree killer.
Occitania is a large historic region of southern Europe which includes southern France; while Provence is an area in southeast France. When 23-year-old Provence native Olivier Baussan founded his personal care products company, he chose the name “L'Occitane en Provence” which can be translated to mean “Woman of Occitania in Provence.”
Comme des Garcons (French for “like boys”) was founded by Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo in 1969. The company is noted for specializing in handmade garments.
When WWII caused a shortage of cocoa supplies, Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero compensated by creating a sweet paste made from hazelnuts, sugar and a small amount of cocoa. He called it “Giandujot” and after many years (and some input from his son, Michele), the paste was transformed into a spread named “SuperCrema” and then into the world-famous Nutella spread.
Laura Mercier is a makeup artist from Provence, France. The line of cosmetics named for her was launched in 1996 and is said to be based on her philosophy for creating a flawless complexion.
Often abbreviated as VW, the name Volkswagen is actually German for “people’s car.” Volkswagen began operation in 1937, just prior to the start of the Second World War.
Japanese make-up artist Shu Uemera founded his cosmetics company in 1967, naming it Japan Makeup. It wasn’t until 1983 that he officially changed the company’s name to his own.
When Pierre Balmain began attending art school, it was with the intention to study architecture. He was, however, drawn to fashion designing perhaps because he had worked in a fashion boutique owned by his mother and aunt.
Hoegaarden Brewery is situated in the town of Hoegaarden in Belgium where the brewing tradition dates back to the 15th century. In 2005, plans were announced to shut down the brewery in Hoegaarden but protests and the inability to replicate the taste of the brewery’s beers led to the shelving of those plans.
Miuccia Prada is an Italian billionaire fashion designer, businesswoman and granddaughter of Mario Prada (founder of the famous Prada fashion label). Miuccia founded Miu Miu (taken from her family nickname) in 1993 as a subsidiary of Prada.
Three brothers (Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault) founded this French automobile manufacturing company in 1899 in France. By 1903, the company had grown sufficiently to begin establishing subsidiaries outside of the country and within a decade, Renault had nearly 5, 000 employees.
The word SEGA is derived from the original name of the company: Service Games. That name referred to the fact that the company, which sold coin-operated slot machines, did so primarily to U.S. military bases.
Cuban-born Oribe Canales has the distinction of being hair-stylist to models walking the runways of almost every famous designer. His work is featured on many actresses and celebrities as they grace the covers of major magazines around the world.
Husband and wife, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, founded Caudalie in 1993 in Bordeaux, France. On their website, they explain that the word “caudalie” is a measure of the how long, in seconds, the taste of a wine remains on your palate.