10 World-Famous Brands and Their Inspiring Success Stories

In the words of Les Brown, you don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great. This is the reality of most renowned brands that rose from rags to riches today. They are made of stories of failure, resilience, and success.

Despite this, they have achieved noteworthy success and are universally recognized and synonymous with excellence in their respective fields. Now these brands are the blueprint of small businesses that aim for excellence. Here are the top 10 inspiring brand stories.


This is the world’s most valuable and recognized brand. Apple was founded in April 1976 by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They were committed to creating a fair-sized computer for personal use, unlike the big computers in the market then.

In 1977, they developed the Apple II, the first personal-use computer with a color display. In 1984, Apple released Macintosh with a graphical user interface and a mouse. While the company’s progress looked promising, it suffered setbacks from Wozniak and Jobs’ departure in 1983 and 1985, respectively.

The 90s were tough for Apple, as they almost became bankrupt. However, Steve Jobs’ return in 1999 helped the company turn the tide in the computer business. In the 2000s, the following products sparked Apple’s rise to success:

  • Apple Store
  • iTunes
  • iMac
  • iPod
  • iPhone
  • AppleTV
  • iPad

Constant innovation and improvement from the 2000s to date, ever-expanding product range, and superior customer service have made Apple one of the only five trillion-dollar companies.


Dr. John Pemberton is known to be the first person to make Coca-Cola out of special syrup in Atlanta, Georgia in 1886. But Coca-Cola was registered as a company in 1892 by Asa Candler, a businessman who obtained the rights to the formula. The businessman’s approach to running the business quickly saw a rise in Coke sales.

Asa Candler’s belief in marketing and advertising helped spur Coke’s growth as the company expanded its boundaries out of the USA, even finding solutions to bottling via franchising. Coke’s popularity continued to grow, thanks to a unique formula that remains ‘secret’ and a strategic, results-driven approach to marketing and advertising.

Coca-Cola’s success underpins the importance of having the right people in your business. While referrals and poaching from your competitors are great, you can find quality leads yourself. Consult recruitment firms or find professional contacts on Leadar by skills or niche.


“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse,” Walt Disney once said. It is a reminder for all of us that big things start small.

In 1923, Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, founded The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. They created short animated films until 1928 when a new ‘Mortimer Mouse’ series was started. However, the series ended up being named Mickey Mouse, a household name even today.

Mickey Mouse was a huge hit, paving the way for more animated feature-length movies like Snow White with iconic characters. In 1939, Disney was awarded an honorary Oscar in appreciation of his contribution to animation. Fast forward, The Walt Disney Studios has major and highly-valued studios, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, etc. Disney theme parks have added to their success, offering immersive experiences to their fans.


In 1998, Google was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who envisioned creating an organized data retrieval system on the world wide web. With just that organization, it became a powerhouse. The company raised funding from investors, helping them streamline their services and earn from online advertising.

Google introduced other services like Google News, Google Maps, Google Glass, and many more. Google is widely popular today because of its simplicity and ease of use. For that reason, it continues to enjoy a vast market share and rakes in about $280 million per year.


Nike was founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 by Eugene Oregon. However, Phil Knight changed the name to Nike. Phil Knight, a middle-distance runner, imported shoes from Japan to sell them locally. Later on, his former coach, Bill Bowerman, joined him, enjoying quite some success just after one year of operation.

Nike gained popularity and was the top-selling sports shoe company in the US in the 80s. Signing Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods in 1964 and 1996 propelled them to greater heights. From then, Nike entered the athletic apparel, equipment, and accessories market, opening the company to a greater market base. Nike is currently worth $164.69 billion.


Success stories are not only limited to old brands. Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to make electric cars. Against common assumption, Tesla didn’t have it easy until the two engineers met Elon Musk. Elon funded them before assuming the CEO position with a $6.5 million investment.

Tesla released its first vehicle, Roadster, an all-electric battery-powered car in 2008. The company then established its production facilities in the US and even more sites out of the US, for example, in Germany and the Netherlands.


Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995, serving as an online book and music CD retailer with only ten employees. However, the online store did quite well, registering hundreds of thousands of users in just one year. The company went public in 1996, raising $54 million on the NASDAQ market.

In 1998, Amazon started selling different products and later let small businesses and individuals sell on the platform too. The company easily became a favorite in the US and Europe due to the comfort of online shopping.

Launching products like Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime Video, and Amazon Alexa spurred them to even greater success. Today it is estimated that Amazon earns approximately $895,000 per minute in sales.


With over 37,000 locations in over 100 countries, McDonald’s wasn’t as big when it was founded by brothers Maurice and Dick McDonald in 1940. However, a salesman, Ray Kroc was impressed by the two brothers’ fast working system in their burger, chips, and milkshake restaurant.

In 1954, the salesman first approached the brothers for a partnership, suggesting a franchising system. He bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million, establishing what is today called the McDonald’s Corporation. Ray Kroc’s franchising idea has made McDonald’s the number one fast-food chain in the world.


Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. Together, they developed programming languages. Later on, they also developed MS-DOS, an OS for IBM’s personal computer (PC). This resulted in the use of MS-DOS by other PC manufacturing companies. By selling hundreds of millions of MS-DOS essential software, the company was able to generate significant revenue.

However, the development of Windows and Microsoft Office in 1985 and 1990 spurred Microsoft into its greatest success, as they became must-haves for businesses. Their continuous innovation and robust leadership are key elements that continue to make them market leaders in the computer technology industry.


Sam Walton founded Walmart in 1962. His main idea was to reduce the cost of goods and, at the same time, increase value. Setting up his first store in Arkansas, he figured out ways to lower prices, for example, through volume purchasing. Sam believed saving his customers’ money would improve their quality of life.

Walmart’s values and commitment to customers quickly made it popular. By 1967, Walmart had 24 stores; in the 1990s, it became the number one store. In the 2000s, Walmart entered the online shopping market, further growing its base and loyalty. Today, Walmart has approximately 10,500 stores and clubs across 20 different countries.


The top brands in the contemporary world are not enjoying success by fluke. They are a result of hard work and persistence. These brands are an inspiration to small business owners who have dreams of becoming respectable brands. To succeed, you have to follow their winning formula.


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