Telling the truth about SME life today

Five brand names that might or might not be based on real people

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

(1) Colonel Sanders REAL

In 1896, when his father died and his mother was forced to go to work, six year-old Harland Sanders ended up cooking for his younger brother and sister.

After working as a soldier, an insurance salesman and a steamboat ferry captain, Sanders began to manage a service station in Kentucky where he would cook for customers including his secret recipe fried chicken. His food was so popular that he opened a restaurant and in 1935 was made a Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his contributions to the state’s cuisine. Eventually Sanders sold his KFC business for $2m, but continued as an ambassador the company travelling more than 250,000 miles a year until he died in 1980.

Six celebrities who had regular office jobs before they became famous

(2) Mr Kipling FICTIONAL

His cakes might be exceedingly good but dont ask Mr Kipling for the recipes, as the kindly old gentleman with the floury hands doesnt exist.

He was invented in the 1960s by a group of executives from the advertising agency JWT who were looking to create a personality to promote their products and they needed a name that conjured up the image of a traditional British baker. Kipling may well have been a reference to poet and author Rudyard Kipling.

The entrepreneurs who fought failures to become billionaire business icons

(3) Dorothy Perkins FICTIONAL

Charles Perkins of Jackson & Perkins, who sold plants and seeds, created a variety of rambling rose at the start of the last century and called it Dorothy Perkins in honour of his granddaughter.

When the bosses of Ladies Hosiery and Underwear Limited, creators of the five shilling blouse, were looking to change their name to something catchier in 1939, they came across the idea of basing it on the Dorothy Perkins which was very popular with gardeners at the time.

The five times sponsorship failed and blew up in the faces of brands

(4) Ted Baker FICTIONAL

When Ray Kelvin decided to open his first clothes shop back in 1988 in Glasgow, he didnt want his own name above the door. If it failed, he reckoned, then someone would be associated with the collapsed venture.

On the other hand, if it did work, then Kelvin could enjoy relative anonymity. As a result of this thinking, his alter ego Ted Baker was born.

The name came from a friend who had been working as a salesman in America and was told to change his name to something more catchy.

These seven founders prove inspiration can come from odd places

(5) Este Lauder REAL

Josephine Esther Mentzer was born in Queens, outside New York, probably in 1906. Her parents had a pet name for their daughter Esty, later to become Este.

It was her uncle, a chemist, who developed her interest in beauty and she began to sell the products he developed to local beauty salons and hotels. In 1930, Este married Joseph Lauder, who became her partner in the business and the name Este Lauder was born. Lauder was a great believer in giving away free samples Tell-A-Phone, Tell-A-Graph, Tell-A-Woman,” she would say.

By the time she died in 2004 her company was worth around $5bn worldwide.



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related Stories

More From


If you enjoyed this article,
why not join our newsletter?

We promise only quality content, tailored to suit what our readers like to see!