Visit the “Hall” in Hallmark and Other Places That Inspired Brand Names

Thursday, November 173 min read

When watching a Hallmark movie during the holidays, or ordering a Budweiser at a football game, the brands are immediately recognizable — a marketer’s dream. But some household names have become so well known that they have eclipsed the fame of the towns and places they were named after. These brands all have one thing in common: They were inspired by real places that can still be visited today.

Hallmark — Goldsmiths’ Hall, England

For over 100 years, the Hallmark brand has been synonymous with the holidays, from festive greeting cards to the quintessential Hallmark Christmas movies. Brothers J.C. and Rollie Hall started selling postcards in the 1910s in Kansas City, Missouri, and eventually expanded the Hall Brothers company to include holiday staples such as gift wraps and licensed products. Trying to think one step ahead, J.C. decided to change the company name to the word “hallmark” because of its historic use by goldsmiths to denote quality. “Hallmark” was coined in 1721 in London at Goldsmith’s Hall, where it described an official stamp of purity in gold or silver. Nearly 150 years later, the word gained general usage as a “mark of quality.” In the greeting-card industry, the Hallmark company was the first to advertise nationally, and in 1928, the company began printing “Hallmark” on the back of their cards.

Budweiser — České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Known for its “King of Beers” advertising campaign and holiday commercials with Clydesdale horses, Budweiser is a giant in the beer industry — but it cannot use that name in most of Europe.

German immigrant Adolphus Busch came to the U.S. in 1857. He soon married Lilly Anheuser and eventually inherited his father-in-law’s brewery, renaming it Anheuser-Busch in 1879. The first nationally distributed beer from Anheuser-Busch was called "Budweiser." Busch named it after a town in the Czech Republic, České Budĕjovice (Czech Budweis). It's the capital city of the South Bohemian Region and has a long history of beer brewing, dating back to the 13th century.

Not to be confused with Anheuser-Busch and the American Budweiser, the Budweis brewery in the Czech Republic has been around since 1896, and its Budweiser beer has a Protected Geographical Indication status from the European Union — it can only be made in the town of Czech Budweis. This has led to a longstanding legal dispute with Anheuser-Busch, which cannot use its trademark name in the EU, and instead must market its Budweiser as “Bud.”

IKEA — Agunnaryd, Sweden

qIKEA — a place where ready-to-assemble furniture and Swedish meatballs collide — is actually an acronym. Its name stands for Ingvar Kamprad (the initials of the company’s founder), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (a nearby village). Agunnaryd is a very small town in southern Sweden with a population of around 200 people. Its claim to fame is the connection to Kamprad, who opened the first IKEA showroom in the nearby city of Älmhult in 1953.

Delta Air Lines  — The Mississippi River

Delta started as a regional airline in the Mississippi Delta Region in 1928, operating out of Monroe, Louisiana. Former Director Catherine FitzGerald is credited with naming the company, gaining inspiration from the geographical roots. Delta's distinct logo was inspired by its name, referencing the letter “delta” (“Δ”) in the Greek alphabet and the shape of a military jet flying overhead.

Adobe — Adobe Creek, Los Altos, California

Adobe Inc. was founded by two former Xerox employees, John Warnock and Charles Geschke, in 1982. Its name was inspired by Adobe Creek in Los Altos, California, where the company was founded. Today, Adobe is still headquartered nearby in San Jose, along with many other major tech companies. The word adobe in Spanish means “mudbrick.” Adobe was often used as a building material by Indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially in the Southwest.  

Lancôme —  Le Château de Lancosme, France

This luxury perfume brand was founded by Armand Petitjean in 1935. Its name was inspired by the ruins of a French castle, Le Château de Lancosme, in the Loire River Valley. This region of the French countryside is celebrated for its serene beauty and historic estates, and Lancôme's rose symbol nods to the rose gardens that surround the ruins.

Featured image credit: DenisTangneyJr/ iStock

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