Does The Name Costco Actually Stand For Something?

Costco is known for its low prices, free samples, and signature brand, but have you ever stopped and wondered what the name Costco actually means? Several have debated if there's a deeper meaning behind the store's moniker. While Costco hasn't explained the meaning of its name, let's debunk some myths that have popped up about its origins. 

One origin is based on the mistaken belief that Costco isn't an American-owned company. However, that is easy to disprove because Costco is a publicly traded company with its top five shareholders in 2023 being Vanguard Group Inc., Blackrock Inc., State Street Corp., Fmr LLC, and Morgan Stanley. Additionally, Costco opened its first store in Seattle, Washington. 

Alternatively, Mission Statement claims that the name was chosen when the store opened in the '70s by Sol Price. According to this website, "CO" stands for company while "ST" stands for store. This would suggest the name of the company was "company store company." Unfortunately, Costco's own website states the first Costco store didn't open until 1983. To make this explanation even murkier, Sol Price founded Price Club, not Costco. Costco was founded by Jim Sinegal and Jeffrey H. Brotman. The most plausible explanation is simply that Costco stands for "Cost Company" because it is dedicated to offering the customer lower prices. However, until the company officially confirms this, even this explanation is only speculation.

The evolution of the Costco logo

While one can theorize about Costco's name, it's much easier to identify the origins behind its Kirkland Signature brand. The brand was named after the location of the company's original headquarters in Washington. Likewise, it's easy to trace the transformation of Costco's logo. 

While the name of a company is certainly very important, the logo takes the customer deeper and gives them an at-a-glance visual representation of the brand. Costco didn't always have the red and blue logo that shoppers are familiar with today. Like the store, it has changed and evolved over the years. The initial Costco logo was simply the word "Costco." It was easy to read, and the red made it stand out against the white background so a customer could find the store at a great distance. 

Over the years, the company has continued to tweak the logo, uppercasing all the letters and adding a blue stripe in 1993. In 1997, the chain would add the words "wholesale" in blue, along with changing from one blue stripe to three. This is the design that customers can still find on the company's various grocery stores, today. While Costco's name may still be a mystery, its logo is easily identifiable to its customers.