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As Smith & Wesson announces name change, here are some of the biggest rebrands in history

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC
Convention goers look at weapons at the Smith and Wesson booth last April at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Karen Bleier | AFP | Getty Images

Shareholders of gun maker Smith & Wesson "overwhelmingly" voted to change the company name to American Outdoor Brands Corp., the company said in a Tuesday statement.

It's not the first company to rename itself to reflect a broader product range or catchier title: Google, Pepsi and BlackBerry are all the result of renaming projects.

CNBC takes a look at some of the most high profile rebrands over the years:


Google

Google's self-driving car, seen at a conference in Paris on June 30, 2016

Google was somewhat bafflingly originally called BackRub way back in 1996 when it was an internal search engine for Stanford University. Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page changed it to Google a year later, based on the mathematical term "googol," which might have seemed similarly mysterious 19 years ago.

PayPal

PayPal app on a mobile phone
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

PayPal also started life with an unusual name: Confinity, named in 1998 to "merge the words confidence and infinity". The following year, the company developed an online demo that allowed people to email payments and the new brand name was born. It was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

Accenture

People enter an Accenture office in downtown Helsinki, Finland.
Jussi Nukari | AFP | Getty Images

The straightforward-sounding Andersen Consulting changed its name to the less straightforward Accenture on January 1, 2001. But it proved to be a smart move, because it distanced itself from the name Andersen, which then became synonymous with scandals such as the Enron audit failure in December the same year.

Altria

A pack of Marlboro cigarettes, left, manufactured by Philip Morris International Inc., a unit of Altria Inc., sits beside packs of Camel cigarettes, manufactured by Reynolds American Inc.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In 2001, tobacco company Philip Morris changed its name to Altria, from the Latin "altus," meaning high. This could perhaps be seen as a reference to the potential effect of using its products, but a company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal at the time that it was supposed to suggest "high performance". The name change also came ahead of the company spinning off Kraft Foods in 2007.

Mondelez

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kraft named its snacks business Mondelez in 2012, separating it from its grocery company (which kept the original name, and subsequently merged with Heinz in 2015). Some commentators noticed that the name Mondelez referred to a sexual term in Russian, but the company stuck by it.

AirTran

A Southwest Airlines plane stands between two AirTran Airways planes at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
Chris Rank | Bloomberg | Getty Images

ValuJet was an airline that was founded in 1992 and hit the headlines in 1996 after a tragic plane crash in Florida that killed all 110 people on board. The following year, ValuJet bought fellow low-cost carrier AirTran, and subsequently took on its name. Fast-forward to 2010 and AirTran was bought by Southwest Airlines for $1.4 billion.

Pepsi

Chris Rank | Bloomberg | Getty Images

While Coca-Cola has always been known as such, rival Pepsi-Cola has not. Both fizzy drinks were invented by pharmacists in the late 19th century, but Pepsi was originally known as Brad's Drink, named by North Carolina's Caleb Bradham in 1893. It was renamed Pepsi-Cola in 1898. Now the drink is part of PepsiCo, and is one of the 22 billion-dollar brands owned by the company.

BlackBerry

Alicia Keys with former BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, during the announcement that RIM would change its name, on January 30, 2013

Research in Motion was founded by engineering students Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin in 1984, making point-of-sale terminals and wireless modems. In January 2013 at the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system, it renamed the company after the product. In September 2016 it announced that production of handsets would be outsourced, in a cost-cutting move to set the business up for long-term growth.

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