Stories behind famous brands

July 31, 2023

Behind every famous brand is a fascinating backstory on the trials and tribulations of starting their business and the journey that lead them to where they are now. Here are a few of the lesser-known stories and facts about some of the biggest brands in the world.

In 2023, Levi’s celebrated the 150th anniversary of their iconic 501 jeans. Originally created as a workwear garment for miners prospecting in San Francisco, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that the jeans transitioned from workwear to everyday clothing. While functional tweaks have been made over the years, the core design has remained the same since the late 19th century.

Since its’ launch in 1994, Amazon has become the biggest e-commerce platform in the world. Initially the company started by selling books but has now expanded to electronics, household appliances, food, clothing and much more. This expansion is represented in the company’s logo which features a curved arrow pointing from the A to Z. Most people mistake the curved arrow for a smile, but it’s to show that Amazon sell every product you could need from A to Z.

You probably watch or hear about a Netflix show every day. Back in 1997, the top video streaming service started off by shipping DVDs via mail to their customers. Fast forward a few decades and Netflix have 238.4 million subscribers in more than 190 countries. Having a Netflix subscription saves the average individual from 160 hours of advertisements.

If you have ever been inside an IKEA, you know how hard it is to leave the store in any timely manner. Founded in 1943, the first IKEA store sold small household goods like pens, wallets, and picture frames. It wasn’t until 1947 that the founder, Ingvar Kamprad, started selling furniture made by local manufacturers. One of IKEA’s core beliefs is providing affordable, high-quality, modern furniture. To ensure this is always the case the design team work backwards from a price tag – determining a price to meet, designing the product and sourcing materials to make that price possible.

Airbnb is one of the world’s most visited travel and tourism websites. In 2007, a design conference was being held in San Francisco and it was making hotels hard to come by. The founders had the idea to add a few air mattresses to their loft and charge 80 dollars a night per guest. They soon realised how big their idea could be and decided to build it into a business. What started as an idea to make some extra money to cover rent has become a multi-billion dollar company. Airbnb is active in 98 percent of the world except for North Korea, Syria, Iran and Sudan. There are currently over 4 million Airbnb hosts worldwide and 6 million active listings on the platform.

Home to over 100 million songs and 5 million podcasts, Spotify is the global leader in streaming platforms. Of these 100 million songs around 25 percent of them have never been listened to by anyone. Created in April 2006, Spotify was founded by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon to deal with the problem of music piracy. Before music streaming services got popular, there were many who downloaded pirated music files. This was a growing challenge for the whole music industry and the founders saw a huge gap in the market for music streaming.

We encounter big name brands every day, but we often don’t know where the idea for these brands came from. Becoming one of the biggest brands in the world is a unique tale to tell and full of interesting insights not to miss! Make sure to check out your Local Enterprise Office as they often run short courses on how to develop a strong brand for your business.

Karen Moloney
Ibec Networks