There actually was a Smith. And a Wesson. They answered to Horace and Daniel, respectively. And in 1852, they founded a gunsmith known as Smith & Wesson. The company wasn't initially a handgun maker - that didn't happen until the patent that Samuel Colt held on the revolver expired in 1856 - though along the way, it bought the long gun manufacturer owned by Oliver Winchester.
Who knew those antebellum firearms makers were such narcissists?
Horace and Daniel - or, more commonly, Smith and Wesson - are going the way of the Edsel. Smith & Wesson (SWHC) , the enterprise that manufactures its eponymous handguns, said Tuesday it was changing its name. By the start of next year, it will become known as American Outdoor Brands Corp., changing its ticker symbol to AOBC from SWHC.
There are a variety of ways of looking at these nomenclature changes undertaken by corporate America. American Buggy Whip, for instance, is no longer a publicly traded enterprise because we no longer need, nor make, buggy whips.
Name changes are often a matter of sheer caprice. Until 2000, what's now Verizon (VZ) was known as Bell Atlantic. A moniker that sounded so ... well, pre-consent decree.
Some rebrandings are products of structural changes: when the old Kraft spun off its legacy grocery business - Oreos, Wheat Thins, Cadbury - the new unit needed a new identity and became Mondelez International (MDLZ) , somehow a mashup of "world" and "delicious" in Romance languages.