The Surprising Reasons These Companies and Brands Changed Their Names

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News via Getty Images

16. KFC
> Former name: Kentucky Fried Chicken

In 1991, fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken made the decision to simplify its name to its initials, KFC.

KFC executives told Bloomberg that they wanted to “reduce dependence on the word ‘fried,'” to help the restaurant attract consumers who may be more health conscious. The restaurants began offering non-fried options like broiled chicken and chicken salad sandwiches.

Source: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

17. Livestrong Foundation
> Former name: Lance Armstrong Foundation

The Lance Armstrong Foundation began in 1997 — in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s testicular cancer diagnosis — as a charity to raise money for cancer research. However, after years of speculation and investigations, it became indisputable in August 2012 that the seven time Tour de France champion had been illegally using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his professional career.

In the fallout, Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from professional cycling. Armstrong’s charity foundation formally changed its name to the Livestrong Foundation in a rebranding effort.

Source: American Outdoor Brands, Inc / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. American Outdoor Brands Corporation
> Former name: Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson Holding, the parent company of the Smith & Wesson firearm brand, changed its name to American Outdoor Brands in 2017. The change was likely made primarily in response to the volatility of the firearms market.

Gun sales can fluctuate considerably in the United States due to current events, such as mass shootings, and political trends. By changing its name, the company aimed to expand its outdoor gear business to new markets that might have negative views of the firearm industry.

Source: Toomuchcash / Wikimedia Commons

19. Ally Financial
> Former name: GMAC Bank

In 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis and the bailing out of a number of major financial institutions, the U.S. government bailed out the American auto industry to the tune of over $80 billion. As part of this lifeline, the government purchased billions of dollars in shares of GMAC, which began as the financing arm of General Motors and was partially owned by the automaker. It also injected money into GM directly.

In 2010, GMAC changed the name of its banking unit to Ally Financial. The decision appears to have been made to distance the company from both its own rescue and General Motors’ financial difficulties.

Source: AdrianHancu / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

20. Amazon
> Former name: Cadabra

Before it became an ecommerce behemoth, Amazon’s name was in flux, as Jeff Bezos tried to get his business off the ground. Bezos initially wanted to call his company Cadabra, like the end of the magician’s phrase “Abracadabra,” but his attorney thought the phrase might be too obscure of a reference, and that the name could easily be mistaken for “cadaver,” the medical term for a deаd body.

Bezos tried out other names like Relentless, Browse, Bookmall, and more. He eventually settled on Amazon, naming his company after the largest river in the world.