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Name Brands: Keeping it Real, Part 2

Posted by: Rachel Bernard on April 23, 2010

By Rachel Bernard and Emma Cofer

Last week, we gave you a brand reality check. Could our savvy readers tell when an eponymous brand was named after a flesh-and-blood founder, or when a spokesperson was a figment of the company’s imagination?

The wait is over. Here are the answers. Expect some surprises—and some stories.

Who are you wearing?
Ann Taylor or Eileen Fisher
Real: Eileen Fischer
Sorry, Ann—you’re a dress. The brand is named after a best-selling garment at the founder's father's store. Eileen Fisher, however, is a genuine (trés chic) clothing designer, and the founder of her self-named company.

Pass the syrup, please
Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth’s
Real: Neither
Aunt Jemima’s name was inspired by a popular vaudeville song and character from the 1800s. Mrs. Butterworth is also an invention. And did you ever wonder what her first name is? Joy, as “discovered” in a recent consumer contest.

Betty Crocker or Sara Lee
Real: Sara Lee
Sara Lee was named in honor of the co-founder’s daughter, but Betty Crocker was created in 1921 to personalize responses to consumer questions. The name “Betty” was selected for its all-American sound; “Crocker” was the surname of a company director.

Revolutionary businessmen
Ethan Allen or Samuel Adams
Real: Neither or both—depending on how you look at it
Both were famous figures in the American Revolution, but neither formed a home furnishing line or a national brewery. “Ethan Allen” was inspired by the firm’s colonial style, and “Samuel Adams” is a nod to the leader who was rumored to dabble in home brewing.

J. Crew or Abercrombie & Fitch
Real: Abercrombie & Fitch
David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch founded an upscale sporting goods store in the late 1800s. But J. Crew was named as a ploy to sound preppy—it was originally called “Popular Club Plan,” which doesn’t bespeak Oxford shirts and ribbon belts quite as well.

For the outdoorsy
Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean
Real: Both
Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean were dedicated outdoorsmen, and each founded his company in the early 1900s after the success of a wardrobe innovation—Mr. Bauer patented the first quilted down jacket, Mr. Bean the waterproof hunting boot.

Excuse me, are you together?
Jack Spade or Kate Spade
Real: Kate Spade
Unless you don’t mind the sneaky swap of Andy Spade’s first name for the catchy “Jack,” chosen for its proud legacy in American culture, only Kate can claim full brand eponymy. Kate and Andy Spade are partners in business and life—check out our earlier article about the pair.

Walk a mile
TOMS Shoes or Steve Madden
Real: Steve Madden
Steve and Tom can’t get together for a chat about footwear, because only Madden is a real fellow. TOMS is a coining of the word "tomorrow,” inspired by the original brand idea: "Shoes for Tomorrow Project."

Right on the shelf
Chef Boyardee or Marie Callender’s
Real: Both
Although the authentic spelling would be “Chef Boiardi,” the Italian-American immigrant chef truly did found the food company. And Marie Callender was named after the founder’s mother—because nobody makes pies quite like mom.

Hair they are!
Bumble and bumble or Paul Mitchell
Real: Paul Mitchell
Bumble and bumble broke with tradition when it was founded in 1977, since salons were usually named after their owner. But B and b persisted, along with more traditionally named hair care lines like Paul Mitchell. Mitchell has its own secret, though: The “Paul Mitchell” from ads is actually co-founder John Paul DeJoria.

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