> Former name: Google
Before it became the world’s leading search engine, Google was a project at Stanford University. Initially, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin called the search engine “BackRub” because it worked by analyzing a website’s backlinks to determine its importance. Yet the founders wanted a new name, and a classmate suggested “googol” which is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The classmate misspelled it as “Google” and the rest is history.
The company Google also went through something of a rebrand recently. Google restructured in 2015, creating the Alphabet parent company, which owns the search engine and various other products as well.
12. Pearl Milling Company
> Former name: Aunt Jemima
For years, Aunt Jemima-brand maple syrup and pancake mix was a breakfast time staple for many Americans. Yet the name was changed to Pearl Milling Company in 2020.
The brand’s parent company, PepsiCo, decided to change the name amid the nationwide protests against racism and systemic inequality, which claimed the Aunt Jemima character used on the packaging was “based on a racial stereotype.” The character was based on an actual woman named Nancy Green, who had been enslaved in Kentucky.
> Former name: Weight Watchers
After 55 years in business as Weight Watchers, a weight management services company, changed its name to WW in 2018. The change was part of a rebranding effort designed to keep the company competitive as cultural norms around weight loss began to change. Namely, dieting has become taboo in favor of personal wellness and body positivity. The rebranding appears to have been effective to some degree, as the company’s share price has climbed over 25% in the last year.
> Former name: Comcast
Comcast has consistently been one of America’s least-liked well-known large companies, even being named the worst company in America by Consumerist in 2010. Just after, the company rebranded its cable service to Xfinity in 2010.
Consumers are consistently more dissatisfied with the products and services provided by cable companies like Comcast than they are with those from other industries, including airlines, cell phone companies, and health insurers.
> Former name: Worldcom
Telephone and data company WorldCom swapped its name to MCI in 2003 after its image was shattered by a massive, multi-billion dollar accounting scandal.
WorldCom appeared to be thriving in the late 1990s, but much of that success had been a sham. Billions in WorldCom’s profits were improperly recorded for the wrong year, and billions in expenses were classified as investments, grossly inflating the company’s profits. All in all, WorldCom’s books were off by $11 billion