What’s in a Business Name? Kodak

Kodak logo, reinstated and refined by Work-Order, 2016

Kodak logo, reinstated and refined by Work-Order, 2016

From the first rolls of film to the first digital camera, Kodak has played a remarkable role in the way that we capture our most treasured memories. Just like the products they have created over the decades, The Eastman Kodak Company’s name has an interesting origin story. What’s in a business name?


The Origin of the Name

George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, came up with the word “Kodak”. He started by thinking of letters he was drawn to, and K was at the top of the list— it felt strong and unique. He then worked with his mother to create a list of names using the letter “ K” and an anagram set.

The rules they applied to the exercise were simple:

1.      The name should be short

2.      There should be no chance of mispronouncing it

3.      It should not be similar to or associated with anything else.

This forced the pair to explore words that were not already in the daily lexicon, like “camera” or “snapshot.” Instead, they arrived at KODAK.


Constant Innovation

Not shy about looking for a new way of doing things, Kodak was the first company to combine both their name and branding into a symbol used on their products in 1907. The full name of the company, Eastman Kodak, incorporates both George’s last name and the “new” word his mother helped him develop.

Kodak also pioneered the “razor and blade” strategy that informs many companies today. That is, they sold low-cost cameras and relied on the sales of consumables like film, paper and chemicals to generate their profits.


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