How we came to be, what we did to get to where we are and what we’re called. For each one of us, it’s a different story. Some boring as hell, some interesting enough to be written about. And with some of our most well-known brands, the same is true. Here are a few of the lesser known stories and facts of some the biggest brands in the world:
1. Lucky weekend in Vegas saved the FedEx
In the early 1970s, just a few years after FedEx was formed, the fledgling company was already in dire straits, losing up to a million dollars a month, At one point, it looked like they wouldn’t be able to meet their financial commitments. While waiting for a flight, Fred Smith, the founder of the company, impulsively hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, where he won $27,000 playing Blackjack. The company was saved and Fred Smith had one helluva story to tell.
2. Lamborghini exists because of Enzo Ferrari’s pride
Lamborghini was originally a tractor manufacturer. The owner, Ferruccio Lamborghini, had an interest in luxury automobiles, especially Ferraris. While doing a routine check, Lamborghini found that the clutch in his Ferrari was broken and he discovered that the car used the same clutch as his tractors. When he asked Enzo Ferrari for a better replacement, Ferrari dismissed him saying he was a tractor maker and did not know anything about race cars. I guess we all know how that turned out.
3. BMW became car manufacturer as Germany lost WW-1
BMW originally started off as an aircraft manufacturing company. After Germany’s defeat in WWI, all airplane manufacturing companies had to cease production, one of the many terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. With the company facing bankruptcy, BMW shifted to motorcycle production, soon followed by the manufacture of cars in 1928. Their current logo is a tribute to their aviation heritage.
4. No Coca-Cola without American prohibition
Coca-Cola was originally created by John Pemberton, an injured Confederate Colonel, who wanted a substitute for his morphine addiction. He called it French Wine Coca, a nerve tonic. When Atlanta passed prohibition legislation in 1886, Pemberton had to redo the formula, basically to make a non-alcoholic version of his tonic. He named the drink Coca-Cola, the drink we all know and love.
5. The logo of McDonald’s is based on the shape of stores
The McDonald’s logo is one of the most widely recognized in the world, probably only behind Coca-Cola. ‘M’ for McDonald’s and all that. But the truth is, the logo wasn’t inspired by the name of the company. The original store’s architecture had golden arches on either side. The owner wanted it so that people could recognize a McDonald’s outlet from a distance. So when they were redesigning the logo, they decided to take inspiration from the restaurant’s iconic architecture.
6. The Nike sign is not a tick mark
Originally called BRS (Blue Ribbon Sports), the company was renamed after Nike, the winged Greek goddess of victory. The famous “swoosh” symbol that’s been its logo ever since represents her wings and speed.
7. Apple logo is not a tribute to Alan Turing
Although it would have been apt, the truth is far from poetic. The most accepted theory is that Steve Jobs’s favourite fruit was the apple. Which explains why their first computer was named after his favourite McIntosh apple.
8. UPS was founded by two kids
United Parcel Service, or UPS as it’s better known, had extremely humble beginnings. In 1907, 19 year-old James Casey founded the company with $100 borrowed from a friend and a bicycle. The teenager also served as president, CEO and chairman. Today, the company is the world’s largest package delivery company. Not bad for a kid with a cycle.
9. Virgin airlines named virgin as founders were virgins
This is a case where the popular story is actually true. The name came about during a brain storming session when someone suggested “Virgin”. The reasoning? Well, since they were all just starting out, they were virgins when it came to running a business.
10. Fanta created in Nazi Germany
During the height of World War II, Nazi Germany was subject to a number of trade embargoes. Because of the lack of raw materials and ingredients, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland. Max Keith, decided to create a new drink for the German market, using whatever they had – “the leftovers of leftovers”. The name comes from the German word for imagination (Fantasie), and they had to stretch every bit of it to make this drink.