Running Shoe Brand Names: The Meaning & Stories
If you’ve been consistently running for a few years, the chances are good that you’ve found one, or maybe a handful, of running shoe brands and models that work for you. Shoes that give you just the right amount of support, that accommodate your unique foot features and that let you forget about your feet and just run. But have you ever given some thought to the meaning behind those brand names? Because while it certainly won’t change the way you run or how you feel about your running shoes, it does make for some interesting reading.
So if you’ve ever wondered what chickens have in common with the New Balance brand, or how the Maori language is linked to a maximalist brand, Hoka One One, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a brief list of some of the world’s most well-known running shoe brand names and the meaning behind each.
The largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe (and second largest in the world), Adidas is not, as is often believed, an acronym for the terms “all day I dream about soccer/sports/something else”. The company was, in fact, named after its founder, Adolf Dassler, as a combination of ‘Adi’, his nickname, and ‘das’, his surname. This came about after the original company that Adolf ran with his brother, the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), was split into two after the brothers got into a disagreement during World War II.
Interestingly enough, Adolf’s brother, Rudolf Dassler, went on to name his half of the company “Ruda” (once again a combination of his name and surname), which later became Puma. And, just like Adidas, Puma is also still a hugely successful role player in the global sportswear industry today.
Originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964, a world-leading sportswear manufacturer, Nike, wasn’t re-named until 1971. And while its co-founders, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, wanted to name it “Dimension 6”, their first employee, Jeff Johnson, thankfully came up with a catchy alternative. Johnson suggested that the company be named Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Founded in 1906 by British immigrant, William J. Riley, the ‘New Balance Arch Support Company’ initially focused only on manufacturing arch supports and other gadgets aimed at improving shoe fit. It was also then the company’s first product, a flexible arch support with three support points, that inspired the name “New Balance”. After carefully observing the chickens in his backyard, Riley believed that the birds’ three-pronged foot structure resulted in what he described as “the perfect balance” or “new balance”. Replicating this mechanism in his arch support products, Riley was known to keep a chicken’s foot in his office to demonstrate to customers how his products worked.
New Balance has obviously since expanded their range to include much more than just arch supports and is currently regarded as one of the world’s major running footwear manufacturers.
With the company’s first factory located high on the banks of the Saucony Creek in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, shoe manufacturer, Saucony, owes more than just its name to this beautiful landmark. Saucony Creek also features in the brand’s logo, with its constant flow cleverly captured along with the boulders lining the creek bed. And, just in case you were wondering, Saucony is pronounced as “sock a knee” – an explanation that was once printed on the brand’s shoe boxes.
And while Adidas turns out not to be an acronym for a popular or inspirational phrase, ASICS is exactly that. Founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949, Onitsuka Co., Ltd. had its humble beginnings in its founder’s living room in Kobe, Japan. The company was later renamed to ASICS, based on Onitsuka’s firm belief that the best way to creating a happy and healthy life, is to promote total health and fitness. This ties in with the famous Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, which translates to “a sound mind in a sound body”, which is precisely the acronym: ASICS.
Hoka One One
A proverbial new kid on the block, Hoka One One has gained a cult-like following among those looking for a bit more cushioning in recent years. And if, like us, you’ve been wondering what the Hoka their name actually means, wonder no more. Launched by Frenchmen Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard in 2009, the company was named after the Maori phrase that means “to fly”. And while the correct pronunciation of the Maori term is “Ho-Kah Own-ay Own-ay”, the consensus since the company’s acquisition by Deckers Outdoor Corporation in 2012 is that the brand name is simply pronounced as “Ho-Kah Won Won”.
Lace up and run!
So whether your weapon of choice was named after an inspirational individual, phrase, or mythological creature, what matters most is that it enables you to get out there and move. So lace up, give thanks for the blessing of well-designed running shoes, and go run!
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