Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

Brand Names Matter –


Amazon is a widely-recognized brand that has grown to immense success over the years. However, the retailer might not be what they are today if its founder Jeff Bezos had not made a strategic business change early in its lifespan.

Originally, Bezos started an online book retailer, Cadabra. He wanted to market it as “Earth’s Largest Bookstore.” The term Cadabra came from the magic word “abracadabra.” However, Bezos quickly realized that this name was not catching on.

Cadabra was simply a weak name. It was difficult to spell and say. Most people did not understand the reference to magic tricks. Even worse, over the phone, people misheard the name as “cadaver,” so it certainly could not pass the crowded bar theory test. Clearly, it was time to rethink the name Cadabra.

Bezos got together with his wife, and voila! They came up with the iconic, memorable name Amazon.

Amazon is a far superior name for several reasons:

  1. Bezos preferred the name immediately because it starts with the letter A, so on alphabetical lists, it would be one of the first options to pop up.
  2. Amazon is a strong name because it is a word most people are familiar with, so no one had trouble pronouncing or hearing it.
  3. It also works on a metaphoric level–the Amazon is Earth’s largest rainforest. It is filled with variety and parts still remain undiscovered. The name captured the scope Bezos was going for, and it allowed for growing room.

This name change solved three problems and allowed Amazon to flourish, becoming one of the most profitable companies.

A strong business name can boost the growth trajectory of your business by aiding in connectivity and memorability. Bezos’ original name offered little for audiences to connect to, and  he realized that the perfect name would help him grow.

So what is the takeaway with this lesson? Sometimes, we think the business name we have come up with is perfect. However, the target audience may not think so. That’s why audience testing is so important. It can help you avoid costly rebranding situations like this and ensure the success of your business name.

A great business name should make your brand explode, not your head–check out these expert tips for choosing a company name.

About the author

Meghan O'Toole
Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

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