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Changing a Corporate Name — 9 Who Did

Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Uncle Ben’s rice, Darlie toothpaste. The list of corporations changing popular brand names is growing. Outdated or racist stereotypes are just one reason big companies make the switch. 

1. Say Goodbye to Eskimo Pie 

The producers of the nostalgic ice cream treat Eskimo Pie are the latest to give their heads a shake. Dreyer’s Ice Cream hasn’t announced yet how it will rename the 100-year-old confection. Eskimo is Native American for “eaters of raw meat.” Canada’s indigenous Arctic population moved on years ago and are now known as Inuit for “the people.”

2. Ay, There’s the Rub

Who would believe Google was once called BackRub? Two-time CEO Larry Page and his Soviet ex-pat partner Sergey Brin, former president of Alphabet Inc., invented the search engine in their Stanford University dorm rooms in 1996. Two years later, the entrepreneurs renamed it Google. Already wildly successful, searches were up to 10,000 a day by 1998. It’s a far cry from today’s 40,000 queries a second.

3. A Totally Uncouth Choice

Google’s major competitor was also founded by a pair of Stanford students. Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web, named after co-founder and Ph.D. students Jerry Yang and David Filo, got off to a quick start in 1994. It’s new name is the equally confounding Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. You know it as Yahoo! Yang and Filo picked Yahoo! for its slang meaning — rude, unsophisticated and uncouth.

4. What Brad’s Drink is Worth Now

An obscure North Carolina pharmacist hoping to copy Coca-Cola’s success invented its greatest rival in 1893. Brad’s Drink was rebranded as Pepsi-Cola in 1898. Little did he know that almost a century later, the beverage would be accused of the worst marketing disaster in history. Pepsi’s infamous 349 Number Fever contest sparked a five-point jump in market share in the Phillipines until the bungled promotion prompted grenade attacks, riots and Pepsi-bottle effigies. The carbonated cola had $67.1 billion in revenues last year.

5. It Hurts Alright

Coronavirus has devastated many company’s fortunes. One of the largest car rental companies in the world declared bankruptcy in Canada on May 22. Despite surviving The Great Depression and multiple recessions, the century-old company has idled 700,000 vehicles and shed 10,000 North American jobs since March. Opportunity knocked in 1923 when the New York owner of Yellow Cab bought the company he named Hertz Drive-Ur-Self.

6. Would You Buy a Sandwich From This Guy?

Doctor’s Associates Inc. seems like an odd name for a sandwich shop. Dr. Peter Buck hoped to trade off on his Ph.D. by giving the fast food outlet a distinguished moniker. Buck started the joint venture in 1965 after offering a family friend a $1,000 loan. The enterpreneurs had little success their first year, ending up with $6 in their pockets. A name change in year three  brought more success. Subway’s ended the year with a $7,000 profit. The 33,337-strong  franchise makes over $13 billion annually.

7. Bad Choices, Bad Press

What to do when criminal investigations give your company a black eye in the media? Changing your corporate name makes those negative Nellies disappear. So thought Valeant Pharmaceuticals executives when they became Bausch Health in May. The name was selected for Valeant’s successful optical products division, Bausch and Lomb. Valeant, which has endured investigations into accounting and pricing indiscretions, has lost 93 per cent of its value since 2015. 

8. Rhymes with Disease

A sceptical former investor thinks this company’s rebranding sounds like a disease. Mondelez was born through the spin off of the Nabisco crackers and Oreos cookies divisions. Pronounced “mohn-dah-LEEZ”, the Latin-inspired name blends “monde” for world and “delez” for deliciousness. Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, a director of Canadian-owned Aurora Cannabis and Proctor & Gamble, is still scoffing at Kraft’s cheesy choice. 

9. Manly But Sensitive

Selling addictive substances has gotten more than one company sued. Altria Group, Inc.’s name stands for “high” in Latin. The joke may be on investors. Altria owns stakes in the Canadian cannaboid market through Toronto’s Cronos Group. Before the company adopted its greener image, it was known as the home of The Marlboro Man. Phillip Morris rebranded to dust itself off from political pressures caused by the anti-tobacco lobby.

Changing Your Non-profit’s Corporate Name

Ontario non-profit corporations that opt for a name change can apply for a supplementary letters patent from Corporations Canada. All it takes is a cover letter, $50 filing fee and:

  • two original signed copies of an application for supplementary letters patent
  • two certified copies of a supporting special resolution of your corporation’s members 
  • a statutory declaration of an authorized officer, sworn before a commissioner for takings oaths, attesting the board of directors and members passed the resolution
  • and a Nuans name search report (two if a bilingual name is requested).

If approved, your amended name will be published in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette and Corporations Canada website.

Make a Statutory Declaration by Video Conference

Axess Law Ontario commissioners of oaths help your non-profit prepare a statutory declaration to make an official name change. Online video calls are available anywhere in Ontario, 7 days a week, at your convenience. Call toll-free to 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. In person meetings are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath services.

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