Companies change names for a variety of reasons and have successfully done so in the past to become household names today. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is one of the most recognizable brands in the world today, started out as Backrub. PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) which is another top global brand was once known as “Brad’s Drinks”.
Companies change names primarily to reflect the changes in their business models, which are sometimes achieved through acquisitions. At other times, companies enter new lines of business on their own, or close down underperforming divisions. In other cases, a name change could be an attempt to escape bad publicity. Philip Morris changed its name to Altria Group Inc. (NYSE:MO) for this reason, as its old name had negative connotations, being linked to lawsuits and other controversy.
Name changes are also executed due to the old name possibly being seen as too long, unpronounceable or just too generic in modern times. However, if not thought out thoroughly, name changes can also lead to a financial disaster, as name recognition can account for a lot of business, which can erode in the face of a sudden, confusing name change.
In this article we’ll look at 5 companies that changed their name or the name of one of their services, changes that did not help their business improve and in fact in some cases had to be repealed. Those companies are the aforementioned Altria Group, as well as Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Accenture Plc. (NYSE:ACN), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and American International Group Inc. (NYSE:AIG).