Today’s blog is dedicated to Dickson, a Denville, NJ postal worker and avid 10 Minutes of Brilliance Reader. Just 20 minutes after I posted my last blog, he said to me, “Hey, it’s been a while. When are you going to write the next one?”
Today’s blog covers: 1. How Famous Brands Got Their Names 2. A Brilliant Idea from Custodian in a South Florida High School 3. What $1500/Month Rent Buys You Across America 4. Star Name Changes 5. Naked Cowboy’s Origins Revealed 6. Shooting Holes in The NRA’s Power Grab
As a Copywriter and Creative Director who launched four billion dollar brands, I’m a real blacksmith. Oh, sorry, I meant wordsmith. I used to be a blacksmith in a Previous Life, so I wrote about it in a previous blog. And since you may have been a Previous Reader in my Previous Life, well, no sense rehashing that.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, today’s blog is about brilliant companies, ideas and actions. First up, how five famous companies changed their names.
Imagine you have a day off work. It doesn’t matter what your job is. For the purpose of this experiment, let’s assume you sell women’s shoes at Nordstrom. (No sense working at Bloomies or Macy’s. You might as well work for the best.) If you’re like most people, you start your day checking your email and cruising the Internet.
Will you use the world-famous browser, Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web or the search engine Backrub? Before deciding, maybe you should pop open and drink an ice-cold Brad’s Drink , then put on your favorite pair of Blue Ribbon Sports sneakers.
And then, even though you have sympathy for the #MeToo movement, maybe instead of cruising the Internet, you’ll just spend a couple minutes checking out the centerfolds in back issues of Stag Party.
Yup, that’s the way it could have been if Yahoo, Google. Pepsi-Cola, Nike and Playboy magazine hadn’t changed their names.
Brand New Names: Google’s original name really was Backrub
In 1996, when Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin conceived the idea of creating a universal search engine, they originally named it Backrub because the program analyzed a website’s “back links” to understand how important and authentic the site was.
Eventually, they amassed so much data, they ran into a snag. Their bandwidth of the data overwhelmed Stanford’s servers. Page and fellow Stanford students decided the Backrub name didn’t evoke the huge quantity of data they were amassing.
So Sean Anderson, a graduate student at Stanford, suggested they call it googolplex. Googolplex is a number so large, I can’t even explain it to you except to say that it is 10 to the power of one followed by 10 to the power of 100 zeros. See, I told you I couldn’t explain it.
Larry Page liked the name googolplex, but felt a shorter version would be easier to say and more memorable. When Anderson searched to find out if the domain name googol.com was taken, he accidentally typed in google.com. Page liked the new name and the rest is internet history.
And if you don’t believe me, just BackRub it.
Pepsi-Cola was Brad’s Drink
Pepsi-Cola was named Brad’s Drink after it’s originator, North Carolina pharmacist Caleb Bradham. In 1893, Bradham concocted what would become one of the world’s most famous beverages in his drugstore. He formulated it as a patent medicine to treat dyspepsia, an uncomfortable feeling in the upper part of a stomach. Bradshaw also wanted something to create a medicinal brew that would taste great with Cheetos. OK, I’m kidding about the Cheetos. I should have said Doritos!
Unlike Coca-Cola which originally contained cocaine, Bradham wanted to invent a medicine that didn’t contain stimulants. Originally, it didn’t even contain caffeine.
In 1898, Brad’s Drink was renamed Pepsi-Cola. the first part relating to dyspepsia and the Cola moniker because it was made from kola nuts.
Blue Ribbon Sports became Nike.
Just do it! Blue Ribbon Sports.
Nah, it doesn’t exactly work, does it, but Blue Ribbon Sports was the original name conceived by Nike co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman.
In 1964, the two men launched what would become he world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel with revenues in excess of $24 billion. It employs more than 44,000 people and its Nike logo and the company are currently valued at over $29 billion.
The worldwide multi-national American company officially became Nike, Inc. on May 30, 1971. It was named after Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory.
Quote. Unquote. How Yahoo Got Its Name
When Web pioneers and entrepreneurs Jerry Yang and and David Filo launched their world renowned search engine and directory (eventually named Yahoo) in January 1994 the original name was Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web. It doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it?
So they changed it to the backronym Yahoo.
STAN: Ah ha! And ah ha, again! Mr. Higher than Mighty Blog Writer Goldenbergowitz! I just found a typo. Or, possibly just a stupid mistake. It’s so hard to tell with you.
HARRIET: What now, Stan?
STAN: Goldenbergstein said Yahoo was a backronym. He meant to say acronym.
HARRIET: Au contraire, stupide petit cochon. (Translation: “On the contrary, you stupid little pig!”) If you had read further down the blog, Jack describes the difference between an acronym and backronym.
STAN: My bad!
So, by the time it was incorporated on March 2, 1995, Yang and Filo changed the name to Yahoo. It stood for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle.
Still, naming their browser Yahoo had its risks. While screaming “Yahoo” can have positive implications, as if you’ve unexpectedly found something you were looking for, a yahoo is also a boring, loud unpleasant person, with little of no education. Sound familiar, Mr. Trump?
Note to Readers. Yahoo is a backronym, not an acromym. An acronym uses initials to spell a non-word, like MIA stands for Missing In Action and APB for All Points Bulletin.
A backronym, on the other hand, uses initials to spell actual words. Like, yahoo for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle and USA Patriot Act which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
Why Do You Have to Know the Difference between an Acronym and a Backronym? It may be on the final.
Playboy Goes Stag
After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1953 with a degree in psychology, America’s most famous playboy, Hugh Hefner, worked several stints in the publishing business. He caught the publishing bug and decided to launch his own men’s magazine, raising $8,000 to publish his first issue. Among his investors were his mother and brother.
He had to abandon the original name for what would become Playboy magazine, Stag Party, when an unrelated men’s adventure magazine, Stag, threatened suit. Searching for a new name, he considered Top Hat, Gentlemen, Sir, Satyr, Pan and Bachelor. He finally settled on the name Playboy after it was suggested by a friend and investor.
Still, Hef didn’t have very high hopes for Playboy magazine when he launched it. He produced the first issue in the kitchen of his Hyde Park, Chicago home and didn’t even bother to date it December 1953 because he was unsure there would be a second.
But he made a shrewd decision for the magazine that launched a sexual revolution worldwide. He included a risque nude photo of starlet Marilyn Monroe and it’s inclusion helped make the Playboy name and iconic bunny logo one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
STAN: Hey, damn it, how come Goldfarb didn’t show us that nude, risque photo of Marilyn Monroe.
HARRIET: Well, this is a family-safe blog, Stan. Even when Jack uses swear words like F*ck, Holy Sh*t and, excuse the vulgarity, Do*ald Tr*mp, he tries to do it in a classy way without showing all the letters.
STAN: Yeah, but we’re all adults here.
HARRIET GIVES STAN A “WHAT, ARE YOU FREAKIN’ CRAZY?” LOOK. STAN CATCHES HER DRIFT
STAN: OK, me excluded.
HARRIET: You’ve got that right. Read ahead, Stan, I’m sure Jack can accommodate your prurient instincts.
STAN: Yeah, whatever.
In case Brilliant Readers, like Stan, you’d like to see whatPlayboy’s first centerfold looked like, click here: Marilyn Monroe Proves “Some Like it Hot”
Hugh Hefner distinguished Playboy magazine with many publishing industry groundbreaking firsts, including fiction by some of the world’s most gifted writers–Arthur C. Clark, Ian Fleming, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Crichton, John le Carre, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Hell, that’s why I read it.
As a young boy growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, I must confess Playboy magazine both amused and confused me. For many years, I thought naked women had staples in their navels.
STAN: They don’t?
Brilliance Comes From Anywhere
Here at 10 Minutes of Brilliance, we celebrate brilliance in any form. So we note that recently it was the birthday of Albert Einstein and the death of the visionary physicist Stephen Hawking. Dr. Hawking never allowed his physical limitations, a lifelong struggle against Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to stop him from exploring the Cosmos to discover, “Where did the Universe Come from?”
Brilliance come in many forms and from many sources. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reacted with brilliance when they organized students to fight back and march against the NRA and insane gun laws that permit anyone to buy an assault rifle. etc.
Another source of brilliance came from Roy, a school custodian in a South Florida high school who came up with an innovative solution to solving the problem of girl’s putting their lipstick on the bathroom mirrors.
It seems that some of these girls, especially the stuck-up seniors, thought it was cute to see how their lipstick appeared on a mirror, not realizing the mess it created for the school custodian who had to clean the mirrors every day. Roy the Custodian went to the principal for help, but when she broadcast her announcement on the school PA system it only made matters worse.
So Roy the Custodian came up with am ingenious solution.. Watch the video that demonstrates a flash of brilliance from Roy the Custodian.
Note to Brilliant Readers: For some reason, my Brilliant Readers rarely click on videos when I put them on my blog. Do me a favor and check them out every once in a while. Like this one:
What $1500/Month Will Buy You Across America
It’s expensive to live in major cities on the east coast and living in the tri-state area–New York, New Jersey and Connecticut–is the most expensive of all. Ever wonder what it would be like to live somewhere else? Money Magazine recently studied what $1,500/month would buy you in all 50 states. Our editors have picked five examples to give you a taste of what it would cost to live somewhere else on a relatively small rental budget.
STAN: Liar. Liar. Pants on fire. This blog doesn’t have any editors. Goldberger should get the Pinocchio award.
HARRIET: Too late. Trump’s already claimed it!
In Indiana, you can get three bedrooms, two and a half baths and access to a fire pit, pool and hot tub for around $1500/month. In New York, be prepared to squeeze yourself into one-bedroom less than a half that size. For double the cost! And it’s probably a walk-up. Here are examples of how far a $1500/month housing budget would go from across the US.
Alaska: Average $1,500 apartment size: 1,200 square feet.
Connecticut: Average $1,500 apartment size: 1,100 square feet.
Florida: Average $1,500 apartment size: 1,140 square feet
Idaho: Average $1,500 apartment size: 1,710 square feet
Nevada: Average $1,500 apartment size: 1,600 square feet
To read the entire article on What $1500/month rent will get you in every state, click here: Money Magazine
Changing of the Stars–Who They Were Before Who They Became Who They Are
Stars, celebs, and fashion icons are famous for having stage names. Sometimes it really makes sense. Would you buy designer Polo shirt from Ralph Lifshitz? Probably not, but when he changed it to Ralph Lauren, well, it definitely made a difference.
Ditto for President Leslie Lynch King, Jr. Never heard of him? Maybe you remember him as President Gerald Ford.
Here are several celebs, appearing with the names they were born with:
Sometimes a childhood prank….
….can lead to an impressive career…
Pledge of Allegiance–Shooting Holes in the NRA’s Incessant, Insane Power Grab
A friend of mine, we’ll call him Mel because that’s his name, sent me a petition that I thought was worth sharing. Although the NRA is worth over $27 billion, it is legally a charitable, non-profit institution. Maybe the best way to curtail its awesome power over the US Congress is to take away its non-profit status.
Here’s the petition and a link to sign it.
“I am disturbed by the response of the NRA leadership in prioritizing political gains over peoples lives. By these actions the NRA is demonstrating that they are not eligible to continue as a tax exempt organization.
That’s why I created a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:”The NRA promotes gun violence which is neither charitable nor socially responsible. Therefore they should not receive the benefits of a tax exempt organization. “
Will you sign this petition? Click here: NRA Petition to Lose their Tax-Exempt Status
The The The That’s All Folks!
Thanks for stopping by today, Brilliant Readers, and for staying until the end. If you enjoyed it, please share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or leave an anonymous note on a Carl’s Jr.’s menu. See you again as soon as I have some more Brilliant thoughts
STAN: Yeah, if ever!