There’s some very interesting history behind our most famous brand names.
There’s some very interesting history behind our most famous brand names.

Secret meanings behind Aussie brand names

IT DOESN'T get much more Aussie than Milo, Chiko Rolls and UGG boots - but do you know how these everyday icons got their names?

We've dug into the history behind some of the country's most famous brands, and discovered the fascinating stories behind them.

According to Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer, the most popular brands often have a lot of nostalgia associated with their name and products, which helps brands connect with consumers.

"Having a brand name that resonates with a target market is vitally important and often there is a lot of nostalgia attached to brands," Dr Mortimer said.

"We find that those that are successful over a long period of time often have a story to tell - just last month David Jones took out a three-page editorial in newspapers outlining its 180-year history all the way from when it started as a drapery to what it is today.

"With big brands like Mortein with Louie the Fly and Vegemite and Aeroplane Jelly - even in their advertising today they often reflect back to their old black-and-white advertising, so there is a lot of nostalgia attached to brands which creates this sense of connection and storytelling around it."

Here's how 16 of Australia's most-loved brands earned their monikers.

UNCLE TOBYS

The company was launched by Leonard and George Parsons in 1861 and originally traded as Parsons Bros.

In 1893, Uncle Tobys oats products were introduced to the market by Clifford Love and Co in Sydney - and he had his niece Nellie to thank for designing both the Uncle Tobys name and its iconic logo.

Uncle Tonys was named after a literary character in the Life of Times of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne - in the book, Uncle Toby is a gentle and uncomplicated character.

Few Aussies realise Uncle Tobys is named after a book character. Picture: Alamy
Few Aussies realise Uncle Tobys is named after a book character. Picture: Alamy

UGG

Just like pavlova and lamingtons, there's a long-running dispute between Australia and New Zealand regarding which great nation invented the humble ugg boot - but where did the name come from?

Some say the word came from "fug boots", which were worn by aviators in rural Australia during World War I.

But the most common explanation is that the term ugg simply came from the word "ugly".

There’s been a lot of debate about who invented the humble UGG Boot.
There’s been a lot of debate about who invented the humble UGG Boot.

MILO

The choc-malt staple was developed by chemist and inventor Thomas Mayne in 1934.

The name comes from the legendary Ancient Greek athlete Milo of Croton, who was famous for his superhuman strength - including hoisting bull onto his mighty shoulders.

It makes sense, considering Milo is marketed as an energy drink and was developed during the Great Depression, when it helped a generation of malnourished kids.

Milo is named after an ancient athlete with legendary strength. Picture: Milo
Milo is named after an ancient athlete with legendary strength. Picture: Milo

WOOLWORTHS

Woolies was founded back in 1924 by businessmen Percy Christmas, Stanley Chatterton, Cecil Scott Waine, George Creed and Ernest Williams, who wanted to build an Australian variety store.

They modelled their business off the American chain, F.W. Woolworth, and originally planned on calling their own store Wallworths Bazaar.

But apparently, they soon realised "Woolworth" hadn't been registered Down Under yet - and as legend goes, Mr Christmas dared Mr Williams to register it on their behalf.

He did, and the rest is history.

Woolworths got its name thanks to a dare. AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Woolworths got its name thanks to a dare. AAP Image/Joel Carrett

DULUX

The name is a mashup of the words "durable" and "luxury" - which is what you want from a can of paint.

Dulux has been manufacturing paint Down Under since 1904. Picture: Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg News
Dulux has been manufacturing paint Down Under since 1904. Picture: Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg News

SPC ARDMONA

It's one of Australia's oldest and most loved fruit processors- but what does SPC stand for?

The answer is Shepparton Preserving Company, named after the company's canning factory in Shepparton, Victoria.

The "Ardmona" part was added in 2002 when the former Shepparton Preserving Company and Ardmona merged.

SPC was incorporated as a public listed company in 1912.
SPC was incorporated as a public listed company in 1912.

EAGLE BOYS

The now-defunct pizza joint was founded by Tom Potter and his mum Barbara in Albury in 1987.

It was originally called "Beagle Boys", after the Disney cartoon characters, but Mr Potter changed it to Eagle Boys to avoid potential copyright violations.

Eagle Boys Pizza was acquired by Pizza Hut in November 2016 and was officially closed on May 1, 2017. Picture: Carly Earl
Eagle Boys Pizza was acquired by Pizza Hut in November 2016 and was officially closed on May 1, 2017. Picture: Carly Earl

IXL

The jam brand was first established by Henry Jones in Hobart in 1891, but it became IXL in 1903.

The brand name stems from Mr Jones' personal motto, which was "I excel in everything I do".

Your morning jam is served with a subtle, inspiring message.
Your morning jam is served with a subtle, inspiring message.

CSR

CSR sugar has existed in Australia for more than 160 years - and the name stands for "Colonial Sugar Refining Company".

The initial CSR refinery was set up in Sydney in 1855. Picture: Andy Shaw/Bloomberg News.
The initial CSR refinery was set up in Sydney in 1855. Picture: Andy Shaw/Bloomberg News.

OPTUS

The telco is named after the Latin term, which means "to choose" or "to decide".

Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia.
Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia.

SAO

The savoury crackers, launched by Arnott's in 1904, are believed to be an acronym for "Salvation Army Officer".

Many people assume they were named after one of the Arnott brothers, Arthur, who was a Salvo himself.

But other theories include the humble biscuits being named after a sailing boat that was moored at Sydney's Royal Yacht Squadron, a mysterious woman called Catherine Sao or even just after Samuel Arnott's initials - with an extra O added for good measure.

SAO’s are now a staple.
SAO’s are now a staple.

TIM-TAMS

Australia's favourite bikkie was named by Ross Arnott after a winning racehorse of the same name, which he saw at the Kentucky Derby in 1958.

A0K1JK Packet of Arnott`s Tim Tam biscuits. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.
A0K1JK Packet of Arnott`s Tim Tam biscuits. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.

VISY

Visy Industries was established in 1948 by Richard Pratt, his father Leon, Max Plotka and Les Feldman.

They turned to Richard Pratt's aunt Ida Visbord to fund the company, and after she loaned them 1000 pounds to get it up and running, they decided to name the business in her honour.

Today, Visy Industries is one of the world's largest privately owned paper, packaging and recycling companies.

According to the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, Visy executive chairman Anthony Pratt and his family have a net worth of $12.60 billion, making them the richest in Australia. Picture Kym Smith
According to the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, Visy executive chairman Anthony Pratt and his family have a net worth of $12.60 billion, making them the richest in Australia. Picture Kym Smith

CHIKO ROLL

The so-called cultural icon was invented by Frank McEncroe and was inspired by Chinese spring rolls.

It was first sold in 1951 as a "Chiko Roll" - despite the fact it has never contained any chicken meat.

The Chiko Roll has never contained any chicken.
The Chiko Roll has never contained any chicken.

JB HI-FI

The electronics retailer is named in honour of founder John Barbuto, who was affectionately known as JB.

JB Hi-Fi was established in Melbourne by John “JB” Barbuto in 1974.
JB Hi-Fi was established in Melbourne by John “JB” Barbuto in 1974.

SMIGGLE

The brand name is a combination of the words "smiles" and "giggles", which relates the brand's young, fun vibe.

Smiggle was founded in 2002 by Stephen Mueurs and Peter Pausewang, who wanted to sell fun and fashionable stationery for teenagers. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz
Smiggle was founded in 2002 by Stephen Mueurs and Peter Pausewang, who wanted to sell fun and fashionable stationery for teenagers. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au