5 Fascinating Company Name Changes

When you see the words “Sound of Music” do you think of the Von Trapp family musical or a chain of consumer electronic stores? In 1981, the most profitable “Sound of Music” store was hit by a catastrophic tornado. Luckily, the storeroom was left intact and the founder decided to quickly throw a large sale in the parking lot to make up some of his losses. He put together a marketing campaign prominently boasting “best buys” on everything. A couple of years later, the chain was reinvented and renamed to Best Buy.

Whether due to a catastrophe or more generic progress, both small and large brands tend to change their name over time. Here are more examples of companies that decided to change with time:

  1. ”DoorBot” to “Ring”: The video doorbell company launched in 2012 under the name DoorBot. After garnering more attention and funding, they rebranded to Ring and acquired Ring.com to appeal to a wider market.
  2. ”ServiceMagic” to “HomeAdvisor”: This service lets homeowners easily search for contractors. They made the switch because they believed HomeAdvisor is more descriptive in their offerings. As Andrew Allemann describes in his article, their switch was anything but easy. It took time before their SEM and SEO could return, and excel beyond what their old domain could offer.
  3. ”Jerry’s Guide to The World Wide Web” to “Yahoo!”: For about three months in 1994 the tech company was named after one of its cofounders, Jerry Yang. It was quickly renamed “Yahoo” as an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle.”
  4. ”BackRub to Google” to ”Alphabet”: In 1996, the Google search engine was originally named “BackRub” possibly referencing its approach before PageRank existed, i.e. counting backlinks. A year later, Larry and Sergey decided a play on the mathematical term “googol” was more befitting of their “mission to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.” In 2015, the publicly traded business reorganized and restructured under the parent company “Alphabet,” with the Google cash cow company as one of its subsidiaries. Alphabet acquired abc.xyz and is now its primary domain.
  5. ”Overstock” to “O.co” to “Overstock”: In 2011, the popular online retailer tried to massively rebrand their company to O.co. From its main website header to NFL stadium signage and TV ads, they put together an aggressive rebranding campaign. Unfortunately it didn’t take. Consumers unaware of the ccTLD .co mistook it for .com and large sums of traffic were lost. You can even see on the archived version of their website how they were trying to educate consumers who typed in “overstock.com” by putting “O.co also known as Overstock.com” in their header. They quickly switched back to the brand their customers recognized, but claim they’re “stepping back from the O.co name “for now,” though not abandoning it outright.” It’s wothwhile noting that they still use O.info and O.biz for other unique portions of their company.

What’s your favorite name change? Let us know in the comments section!

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Krishna April 7, 2016, 12:23 pm

    Ring/Home Advisor – nothing to say. Name says it all.

    Some entrepreneurs are really smart and understand the value of the domain names.

  • WriterStat June 2, 2016, 2:11 am

    ServiceMagic” to “HomeAdvisor” As Servicemagic they were dying and unfriendly image. The change to HomeAdvisor is now making them grow again, cleaned them up, made them friendly. What more can you ask from a name change than a complete turn around based on it.