Jonathan-Weiss/ShutterstockWhen you think of GEICO, the first thing that comes to mind is probably its lovable lizard mascot. But the insurance company didn’t just pick its name because it rhymed with “gecko.”
Way before GEICO’s quotable commercials (“even a caveman could do it,” anyone?), husband and wife Leo and Lillian Goodwin had dreams of making an auto insurance company, according to geico.com. It was the height of the Great Depression, so they needed a good marketing plan. Their strategy? Target a specific group.
The Goodwins figured government workers tended to have steady incomes and be exceptionally responsible—meaning, less likely to crash their cars—so the insurance company could keep its rates low and still make a profit, according to encyclopedia.com. When the company launched in 1936, it was only for federal employees and some military officers, and hopefully none of them had to deal with any of these bizarre car insurance claims.
And so the Government Employees Insurance Company was born. That’s right—the random-sounding name is actually a hard-to-guess acronym.
By 1952, the company expanded to all government workers—not just federal, but state, county, and municipal, too—to get more clients. Six years later, it added anyone with a professional, managerial, or technical job to its pool of eligible customers. Finally, it became available to the general population in 1973.
But throughout all its expansion, GEICO stuck with its original name. And we’re glad they did—if not, we might never have met that cute little gecko.