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It’s okay to rebrand: 10 major brands you wouldn’t recognize by their original name

(BUSINESS NEWS) These 10 top brands underwent a major rebrand to become the household names you know today.

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Rising from the ashes

For a struggling company, sometimes a redesigned logo or the introduction of a new product does the trick. Other times, an entire new brand identity may be the best bet. Of course, it’s important to work to make sure you’ve found the right name for your brand before putting time and resources into making your brand take off and rebranding can be scare.

But if the following list shows us anything, it’s that even some of the biggest players out there realized their name was a roadblock on their path to success.

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Australian Help put out a great graphic to show some major companies that took the leap and ditched their original names. Here are 10 household name companies that definitely made the right choice in rebranding.

1. Backrub to Google (1997)

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t familiar with the Google name and iconic multicolored logo, but for almost a year the search engine was called BackRub. When founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin needed to expand beyond their original Stanford University servers, the chose to swap out the name too. You may know that the name was inspired by the number “googol,” but it was actually a spelling mistake when registering the domain, not a creative choice, that led to its current name.

2. Lucky Goldstar to LG (1995)

The LG name has a long history beginning with the merge of two South Korean companies, Lucky and GoldStar in 1958. The two companies produced hygiene products and consumer electronics, respectively, and operated as Lucky-Goldstar for over thirty years. In order to better compete in the Western market, the company name was shortened to LG, leading to the “Life’s Good” tagline and clever smiling face logo.

3. Brad’s Drink to Pepsi (1898)

For a short five years, the popular soda went by the less catchy name Brad’s Drink. The original name came from inventor Caleb Bradham’s last name, and the current name comes from “pepsin,” the enzyme that helps digest proteins in food. The switch was definitely a good move, but Pepsi sounds a lot cooler when you don’t know where the name comes from.

4. Sound of Music to Best Buy (1983)

In 1983, Sound of Music was a humble chain of seven electronics stores specializing in high fidelity stereos. Today, there are over 1,000 locations nationwide, and stereos are just one of a long list of electronics for sale. As the company grew and their merchandise offered expanded, the switch to Best Buy was a great, necessary transition.

5. Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike (1971)

In one of their first ad campaigns after adopting the new name after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike stated “There is no finish line.” In a direct response to their old name, Nike suggested their bright future ahead and prospective goals. Today, the name and swoosh logo are one of the most recognizable brand identities around the world.

6. Pete’s Super Submarines to Subway (1968)

In 1965, Subway founder Fred DeLuca borrowed $1,000 from his friend Peter Buck. To show his gratitude, DeLuca named his first sandwich shop after Peter. The pair went on to run the shop together, but changed the name after finding little success under the original moniker. Now, Subway is the the largest restaurant operator in the world, with 44,852 restaurants in 112 countries.

7. AuctionWeb to eBay (1997)

This name change came from outside forces, when founder Pierre Omidyar realized media coverage of his auction site frequently referred to it as eBay, the name of his umbrella company. The original eBay Internet housed four sites: AuctionWeb, a travel site, a personal shipper site, and a site about the Ebola virus. Only the first had much success. As a result, Omidyar officially changed the name to the one people already were starting to call it.

8. Phoenix to Firebird to Firefox (2004)

The free, open-source browser went through a series of subtle name changes before finally hitting the jackpot with Firefox. When it first appeared for public testing in September 2002, the name was Phoenix, but less than half a year later a trademark dispute began with BIOS manufacturer Phoenix Technologies. The name was then tweaked slightly to Firebird, another name for the mythical phoenix. More naming disputes took place over the next year, and in February 2004, the name Firefox was finally chosen.

9. Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web to Yahoo (1994)

Another search engine that started at Stanford, co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo were still PhD students when they started what we now know as Yahoo. The root of the original name is obvious, while the current one stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”

10. Research in Motion to Blackberry (2013)

Research In Motion was already a success when the name was switched to Blackberry in 2013. Although the first first device to carry the BlackBerry name was the BlackBerry 850, an email pager introduced in 1999, the company didn’t officially the name of its best-known product until 2013 as part of a larger comeback plan. Unfortunately, this case shows that sometimes more than a new name is needed to bring a struggling company back to action.

#Rebrand

Brian is a staff writer at The American Genius who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, and majored in American Culture Studies and Writing. Originally from California, Brian has a podcast, "Revolves Around Me," and enjoys public transportation, bicycles, the beach.

Business Marketing

Take Google classes online for free to give your brand superpowers

(BUSINESS) If you own a business or lead one, take one of many interesting free Google classes to brush up or learn new info to gain a competitive advantage.

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Staying competitive means not only hiring the right people, making the right product, and being a good leader – it means investing in your own development.

Especially if you’re an entrepreneur – it pays to invest in your own development by taking classes, webinars, and other forms of education.

Online courses in particular are useful if you have competing roles (or multiple roles!) that keep you from being able to attend a local course. Google offers a few free Google classes that are listed on platforms like Udacity.

There are many courses available that could benefit your company; here are three worth starting with:

  • App Monetization – Ultimately, most of us are in the business to make money. This course is useful because it equips you to consider profitability from the beginning, and then introduces monetization models and from there, prompts you to develop a strategy and gives information to track a strategy. This course is focused on sharing best practices, and makes you a better manager even if not developing an app, per se. Course is available via Udacity.
  • Localization Essentials – If you want to compete in the global market, and you are ready for that, it is essential that you consider how your product will need to be adapted both in terms of language and culture. This course is especially valuable for developers, product owners, or localization newbies. Knowing the fundamentals of localization makes you more prepared for dealing with a global audience. Course is available via Udacity.
  • Responsive Web Design – People like it when things work. I’ve said before that people are visual, but they also crave intuition. This course talks about responsive web design and discuss what works across different devices (because we don’t always go on our computer!) with a focus on optimization. This class does require a good comfort in reading HTML and CSS. People interact with products first online many times – make sure your website is responsive to any device. Course is available via Udacity.

There are of course a much larger amount of online courses on everything from history to design, and beyond. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are sustenance for knowledge seekers. Check out for example, the Science of Happiness from UC Berkeley, or learn about Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel directly from Microsoft.

Before engaging in an online course, make sure:

  • You are interested in the topic.
  • You have the pre-requisites and key knowledge. Read the course description!
  • You make the time.

Many MOOCs are free, not just Google classes – but time and your own work are still valuable. It’s easy to write off something for free, but you want to maximize your time and make sure you get something out of it. Being educated can give you an advantage, but keep learning relevant to your interests and goals.

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Business Marketing

5 ways voice is changing the SEO game

(TECH NEWS) As voice assistants take over our lives, you may worry how your SEO fares in this new, uncharted territory. Let’s discuss.

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SEO is a moving target. The standards change constantly so, despite years of experience, many web designers struggle to meet all the optimization guidelines. How, then, can any business confidently approach the web design process? It starts with recognizing those evolving norms, the newest of which is voice search.

Why Voice Search Matters

For years, the dominant SEO rule has been mobile first. The introduction of voice recognition systems, like Siri and Alexa, to smartphones has dramatically changed how we interact with devices. In fact, 20% of Google searches are voice searches with that number expected to grow rapidly over the next few months. Businesses and web designers, then, need to make sure their sites are voice ready if they want to stay relevant. Though the sites may stay the same visually, they need to gain a new edge functionally.

From The Ground Up

Modifying your website to support voice search isn’t as simple as many other SEO transitions, but if you take a ground up approach to the process, you’ll be able to reshape your website around those changes. Still, you’ll need help to do this correctly. When adapting your website for voice, SEO consultant Aaron Rains recommends hiring an expert for a full site audit and analysis to maintain your page ranking. You don’t want your page to take a rankings hit because you’re trying to keep up with the trends.

Expanding Your Device Options

In addition to its advantages from a mobile perspective, making the move to voice search also means expanding your site’s horizons by making it more accessible to new devices, particularly the smart home speakers that are gaining in popularity. Users are particularly comfortable with these devices because they rely on natural speech patterns rather than half-formed search terms. Children growing up with these smart speakers in their homes seem to view them as part of the family and will be native voice search users as they grow.

Snippets For Search

Part of updating your website for speech is optimizing the content to match changing search patterns. One of the key ways to do this is through the use of featured snippets.

Featured snippets are designed to help put your website in the #0 spot – the top ranking. To do that, you’ll want to put the answers to your most popular queries in the first few sentences on your page. This is especially for purchasing and local search since people frequently use voice search to find local businesses. If you can optimize for the most important snippets early on, you’ll be way ahead on the competition and have a greater ROI.

Rebuild and Reassess

After modifying your website for voice, you may find your rankings initially drop. That’s because you need to request your site be re-indexed. Otherwise, search engines won’t be able to match queries with your new site content. Re-indexing will put all of your new information into effect and make it possible for users to search using the featured snippets. Re-indexing your site will also help you ensure that you haven’t interfered with the crawl-ability of your site.

Experts expect half of all searches to be voice-driven by 2020, but since 50% of users with voice search access already use it at least occasionally, now is the time to act. Even if many users are still wary of voice search, you can’t afford to fall behind. Those users will still be able to rely on traditional text search mechanisms, but that won’t help voice enthusiasts. If you lose those early adopters now, they might not come back when you’ve caught up with the voice search revolution.

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Business Marketing

How to use offline marketing to your advantage in a digital world

(BUSINESS) We often become obsessed with new marketing strategies, favoring the internet over some traditional methods that continue to drive traffic timelessly.

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Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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