Where do the names of sports brands come from?

I know: you, too, have happened to wake up in the middle of the night sweaty and breathless with anxiety, crying out, “Why is adidas called like that? And why is Nike called Nike?” This article is intended to save you from such nightly traumas: you will indeed find in it an explanation of why a brand is named a certain way, what it is derived from, and why. By the way, you can spend all these oddities at happy hour, or by playing Trivial Pursuit, you never know. We begin, strictly in alphabetical order.


The German company derives its name from the crasis of its first and last name and its founder, namely Adi Dassler.


The Americans at Altra Running found inspiration for their name in the Latin language. “Altra” derives from “altera,” meaning something that is defective or missing. In Altra’s case, the shape of the traditional shoe, which, in contrast to their proposal, has a drop greater than zero and a toe box that constricts the toes, rather than leaving them free to open up as they come off the ground.


The Japanese in ASICS also have something Latin in their name. In fact, it is an acronym: “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano,” not coincidentally referring to the “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which states that a healthy mind can only exist if it is housed in an equally healthy body (and vice versa).


If his name sounds like a last name, you guessed right. When it was founded in Philadelphia in 1914, Brooks Sports-as it was called at the time-was named after its founder, John Brooks Goldenberg.


When it was born in 2009, what we now know simply as Hoka was called “Hoka hownay hownay.” It is easy to be misled by “One One” thinking that it indicates the number 1; intead this is not an English name but rather a Māori word meaning “to fly above the earth.” And that it is pronounced the way it is spelled, which is “Oka One One.”

La Sportiva

Founded in Trentino in the early 1920s by Narciso Delladio, it was initially called Calzoleria (“shoemaker”) Sportiva, later contracted into the simpler and more direct“La Sportiva.”


Again, this is a name derived from a surname. In fact, the two brothers Rihachi and Rizo who founded it in Osaka, Japan in 1906 were named Mizuno by last name.

New Balance

Also founded in 1906 in Boston by Irish immigrant William J. Riley, New Balance takes its name from what it originally produced, namely plantar supports inspired by the hen’s foot (which Riley kept on his desk to prove his theory, namely that a plantar support clearly referable to the foot support mechanics of a bird was perfect and, indeed, balanced).


The American brand name is derived from the Greek goddess of Victory. If you want to do what the classics did, you can say “ˈnaɪ.ki,” because that’s how they say it in Greek.


Founded in Switzerland in 2010 as a startup, On has a name about whose origin I can make two speculations. At the beginning of their venture, the technology on which it was based was explained as “running on clouds” (the particular tubular midsole was just called “Cloud”) and perhaps the name comes from the elision of “Cloud” from the expression “Running On Cloud.” Since this is also a brand that expressly produces running shoes, it may be that On comes from the expression “On running,” meaning “about running.”


Founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler (Adi’s brother, who gave adidas its name), it was originally and for a few months called Ruda, from his initials (Rudolf+Dassler) but soon changed its name to Puma.


The name is in Afrikaans and comes from the African antelope Vaal Rhebok or Vaalribbo, otherwise known as “roe antelope.”


What does the logo of the American Saucony look like? A wave. This is not coincidental:“Saucony” is the name of the river that flows through Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where this company was founded in 1898. The name has a meaning for Native Americans and is “Where Two Rivers Run Together.”


By producing high-tech shoes, one would think that Scarpa would indicate the main product. The misunderstanding is understandable, but it is an acronym that stands for “Società Calzaturieri Asolani Riuniti Pedemontana Anonima” which goes like “Footwear Company Asolani Riuniti Pedemontana Anonima”.

The North Face

The literal translation of the name of the American company founded in 1964 by avid hikers and mountaineers Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth Klopp is obscure to the uninitiated or non-mountaineering enthusiast but crystal clear to enthusiasts: “The North Face” in mountaineering is the shadow side of any mountain, thus the most impassable and challenging side for climbers. Curiously enough, the first store the two opened was not at high altitude but at the exact opposite: in fact, it was located in San Francisco, not far from the beach.

Topo Athletics

Founded just a few years ago by Tom Post, former president of Vibram USA, it derives its name from the crasis of his first and last name: TOm + POst!

Under Armour

The origin of the name of the American giant Under Armour founded by Kevin Plank in 1996 stems from a misunderstanding and contingency. The misunderstanding was one that arose when he and his brother were discussing the name to be given to the company that would produce technical clothing to be worn in contact with the skin to better dispose of sweat. They initially thought of calling it “Body Armour,” meaning “armor,” but then Kevin fell in love with Under Armour, thinking it sounded better. The contingency that prompted them to choose the English wording “Armour” instead of the American wording “Armor” (without the “u”) is due to the fact that the toll-free number was only available for the former. As they say, “make a virtue out of necessity.”
A rule that always applies, in sports and in life.

(Main image credits: Kues on DepositPhotos.com)


related posts


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.