The Numbers Behind 5 Well-Known Brand Names

There’s nothing to suggest that brand names must be exclusively word-based. In fact some of the best loved and most recognisable brand names combine both letters or words and numbers. But have you ever wondered what the numbers in them actually mean?3M brand name signage outside corporate HQ

A recent quiz by Business Insider UK tested your knowledge of 13 of the most well-known brand names. We’ve picked out 5 to share where the numbers that are so intrinsic to their identities came from.


The company best known here for Scotch Tape and Post-It notes was originally called the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, having started out harvesting corundum at Crystal Bay mine. But when it discovered that corundum supplies in the mine were limited, it changed direction and its name to 3M.

Chanel No.5

One of the most iconic and enduring perfumes with arguably the most recognisable brand name, the ‘5’ in Chanel No.5 was picked by its creator Coco Chanel because she chose the fifth fragrance that perfumer Ernest Beaux produced for her. Its official launch date was 5/5/1921.

Porsche 911

Believe it or not, Porsche’s flagship model was originally going to be called the Porsche 901, but Peugeot forced them to change the name. The French car manufacturer claimed naming rights to a three-digit model number, with the middle digit being a 0. Porsche simply replaced the 0 with a 1.


The lubricant spray famous for stopping squeaks was branded with the number 40 because the chemists who developed it in the 1950s to prevent the Atlas space rocket from corroding were only successful on their 40th attempt. The product acronym stands for Water Displacement 40th Formula.

Cadbury’s 99 Flake

The British ice cream classic has long been known simply as a ‘99’, but what’s the significance of this particular number? One theory has suggested that Cadbury named its flake after the Italian monarchy’s elite guard of 99 soldiers in an attempt to appeal to the Italian expats working in the UK’s ice cream industry. But it was revealed in BBC Two programme ‘Balderdash and Piffle’ that the myth was actually a reference to the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, which had 105 members.


As you can see from these examples, the numbers all tell a story of some sort and including them in the name didn’t do these brands any harm. On the contrary, it actually helped to make them stronger and has contributed to their longevity. Coming up with a business name that has a story behind it can be a good way of creating a memorable brand that arouses curiosity in people and gets them talking about it.


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