Many companies are so heavily associated with some of their more famous products that they are actually confused with them. Numerous are those that refer to Apple Inc. as "Macintosh".
Another famous example is the Mercedes-Benz. The name of the company which manufactures it is Daimler. Naturally, they don't make Daimler cars, Jaguar does: Daimler was originally a Daimler-Benz brand, but due to a contract mistake accidentally handed the right to the name over to a licensee.
Barbie is often referred to as a company, rather than just a product made by Mattel.
Many years ago the paint manufacturer Berger ran a campaign in the UK to try to raise awareness of its own name rather than that of its various paint brands.
Of further note are several companies that, while they did not originally share their names with their better-known brand names, have changed their names to avoid confusion. Convenience-store chain 7-Eleven's corporate presence was known as Southland Corporation until 1999, and fast food chain Jack in the Box was incorporated under the name Foodmaker until the same year.
With 7-Eleven it's a bit more complicated. To make long story short, the company just went bankrupt and was bought out by its Japanese partner, Seven & I. Holdings.
In the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, a Burger King wanted to open up. As Lake Forest is a fairly wealthy suburb, Burger King approached the city under the name of the corporate owners. When the Burger King went up, the city protested as they didn't want a fast food place, but had already signed off on the restaurant.
Here's a particularly fun one: the UK division of Mars, the maker of the eponymous candy bar, changed their name to Masterfoods in 2001, to try to distance their non-candy brands from that of the well-known chocolate bar. Then five years later, they changed their name back to Mars because the new name wasn't as memorable.
The American division took the same name in 2005, but changed back at the same time as the UK division; everyone, even the business media, just kept calling them "M&M Mars" anyways, while almost nobody knows they make Pedigree and Whiskas pet foods. Besides, Mars is a family business—wholly owned by the Mars family.
The Haloid Corporation changed its name to Xerox. That machine you use and the paper you get out of it are a copier and a copy, respectively, not a xerox. It was not originally correct to use 'xerox' as a verb to mean the act of copying, but it had become quite common.
Binney & Smith changed their name to Crayola LLC in 2007.
An episode of Jeopardy! asked which company made the Bold 9000 smartphone. The correct question was not Blackberry as they said it was, but rather Canadian firm Research in Motion.
Sun Microsystems Inc. switched their Nasdaq stock symbol from SUNW to JAVA in 2007, after their popular programming language. Sun originally started out selling only hardware. The company merged with Oracle Corp. in 2010.
Software makers regularly do this. "AVAST Software", maker of the popular antivirus, was once called "ALWIL Software". "Diskeeper Corporation" started out as "Executive Software".
The owner of Target stores was called the Dayton Hudson Corporation (and before that the Dayton Dry Goods Company) until August 2000, when it was renamed the Target Corporation.
Not even products are safe from this. In several cases, people tend to use the trademarked name of a well known product as a catch-all name for the same product made by other companies. For example, no matter who makes petroleum jelly, people will likely call it "Vaseline". The same goes for adhesive bandages, which are almost exclusively called "Band-Aids". And that generic box of toasted whole grain oat cereal that looks like Cheerios, but definitely isn't called that? Doesn't matter. They're still Cheerios!
Sportscaster Sam Leitch once said of a victory by a Scottish football club named Raith Rovers that the fans would be dancing in the streets of Raith. Only problem is, Raith isn't a settlement.
Lampshaded when the Welsh football club TNS won the League of Wales and a sportscaster announced that fans would be dancing in the streets of TNS. TNS is Total Network Solutions, the name of the club's sponsor.
Or was - in a strange smashing-up-then-reconstituting of this trope, when the sponsorship deal ended the club obviously couldn't keep the name, but as it had moved from its former home of Llansantffraid it could no longer revert to that name either so had to create a brand new one for itself. The, erm, solution? Take the ex-Llansantffraid's nickname of 'the Saints' ('sant' being Welsh for 'saint') and by a logical and convenient extension rebrand yourself as The New Saints - different name, same initials. So they are not in a place called TNS and they are no longer sponsored by TNS, but they are still TNS... It's not yet known whether their 2009-10 season title-winning performance provoked any commentary along the lines of "They'll be dancing in the streets of New Saints".
The first stage-show based on Scottish football comedy series Only An Excuse featured two fans shouting abuse at the teams, including "Get back tae Raith!"
Speaking of football teams, their jerseys are often this to newer fans of the game. Football kits are mosre often than not sponsored by a particular company, and so they are allowed to basically put whatever they want to advertise on the front and center of the uniforms (for example, Fly◊ Emirates◊) and the team sponsor is usually on the wearer's right breast, while the logo for the team itself is usually on the wearer's left breast. Many newcomers to the sport, particularly Americans (where in nearly all team sports. save for MLS, direct advertising on jerseys is not allowed and so they would never see uniforms like this), have mistaken the kit sponsor for the actual team name.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is actually called 'The Manifesto of the Communist Party'. Marx and Engels did not invent communism and never claimed to have done. The manifesto is no more a reference point for what communism is than the US Democratic Party Platform is a reference for what democracy is.
Maximilien Robespierre's rule over France between 1793 and 1794 is generally referred to as 'The Terror'. Most people assume this was the name given to it by terrified ordinary people who were at risk of being executed by Robespierre. Actually it was the name Robespierre and his government themselves gave to their policies, and the people who they were supposed to be terrorising were not ordinary French people, but the foreign armies fighting against France.
Strictly speaking, Big Ben is the name of the bell that strikes the hour in the Great Clock at Westminster Elizabeth Tower* Renamed in 2012, partly to honour Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ’s sixtieth year on the throne and partly to put and end to the confusion over what the tower is called., rather than the clock itself or its clock tower.
Double example here, since most people who know the tower isn't called Big Ben persist in correcting people who get it wrong by informing them it's actually called St. Stephen's Tower. It isn't. St Stephen's Tower is a small tower at the main entrance to the Palace of Westminster (called St. Stephen's entrance), but the error is so widespread most tourist information websites still get it wrong. The tower which contains Big Ben was simply called the Clock Tower. As of the Diamond Jubilee, said tower shall be called "Elizabeth Tower" after Queen Elizabeth II.
David Mitchell on The Unbelievable Truth: "You're standing at the bottom of Big Ben—you know what I mean by Big Ben and everyone will write in and say it's not called Big Ben, the tower with the clock in that makes the bongy noise!"
The founder of "Wendy's" was Dave Thomas. "Wendy" refers to his daughter, who was mentioned often in commercials by Thomas, but didn't actually start appearing in the commercials until 2011 - at about the same time as a cute red-headed twenty-something in braids also started to appear as "Wendy" in other commercials. Then there is the cartoon Wendy: the Pippi Longstocking type who appears on the logo, and eventually became an animated mascot much like Ronald McDonald. Very confusing.
Same with Mercedes, which is called after the daughter of one of the employes of Daimer-Benz.
Carl's Jr, to some extent. Its founder's name was Carl Karcher, but his dad's name was Leo. Karcher initially opened a restaurant called Carl's Drive-In Barbecue, then a smaller version that he called Carl's Jr. The latter ended up becoming the More Popular Spin-off.
Inversion: In the 19th century a Russian delegation climbed aboard a train on what was a new British railway network (Southern Railways, to be specific) and one of the delegation looked out of the window, seeing a facility where passengers could board and alight trains and saw a sign reading "VAUXHALL". Consequently, when introducing a railway network to their country the word was used for such a facility. To this day the Russian word for railway station has been vauxhall.
This one is an urban myth - there was no station by that name when the word first appeared in Russian (the nearest was Nine Elms, which was a terminus). "Vauxhall" at that time was best known as a pleasure garden, and may have been used to refer to pleasure gardens in general.
While there is a town of that name in the Zone of Alienation, Chernobyl refers to the district in which the nuclear disaster took place. The power plant is located in Pripyat, 15 km from the town of Chernobyl.
Incidentally, the official name of the power plant wasn't Chernobyl, it was the Vladimir I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station.
Not many people know that Paul Frank's famous monkey character is actually called Julius, those people actually think he shares his creators name.
Also "for the record", "Christ" is the Greek-derived word for "anointed" (how you show someone is a king, prophet or both). The Aramaic/Hebrew-sourced version being, of course "Messiah". In either case, "Christ" is NOT Jesus' last name. He probably didn't have one- most people at the time either didn't need one, or if they did it wasn't fixed: he'd just be '...the carpenter' '...from Nazareth', '...the preacher', depending on the circumstances.
To help illustrate this, many times in Paul's letters, he refers to "Christ Jesus", which is not a typo.
Furthermore, "Jesus" is the Greek translation of the name "Joshua"; hence Joseph and Mary's son should technically be called "Christ Joshua".
Similarly, "Santa" is not Santa Claus's first name.
I dare you to find someone named Real Life or The Real World.
The authors of many older Jewish theological books, such as Ḥazon Ish or Ben Ish Ḥai, are commonly referred to by the name of their works, even though their real names are known. This is roughly equivalent to knowing Herman Melville as "Moby Dick".
Nintendo is the name of the company, not any of the consoles it created. Ditto for Atari and Sega. Similarly, you don't play "Nintendo", you play the games on the consoles, many of which are developed and/or published by Nintendo itself (as well as many other companies).
In United States space travel, Apollo refers to the name of the program, not the rocket (either Saturn IB or Saturn V, depending on the mission), or the spacecraft itself (after the first two missions, each Command Module and Lunar Module had its own name).
Kimberley-Clark is known as "the Kleenex company" despite having several other very successful products like Huggies diapers and Cottonelle toilet paper.
A cockney is traditionally born within the sound of Bow Bells. Many people, even a lot of Londoners if they were honest, think this refers to the district of Bow deep in the old East End. In fact Bow Bells refers to the church of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, right in the heart of the financial district. Given the amount of traffic and building work in the area one would have to be born on the pavement outside to be within earshot. One American guide book had a good stab at the truth, insisting that Bow Bells were not in fact in Bow but in Aldgate. At least it was partly right.
The University of Wisconsin actually refers to thirteen campuses in cities scattered all across the state. The school that most know as "Wisconsin" and whose athletic teams play in the Big Ten is actually the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This tends to cause frustration for students and alumni from the other UW schools such as UW-Stevens Point (UWSP) or UW-Whitewater (UWW) when applying for jobs out of state who often end having to explain the naming convention. This is particularly a problem for UW-Milwaukee which also shares the UWM initials with Madison (although the Madison campus is usually referred to only as UW with no qualifiers). This has led some to casually refer to the university by a technically incorrect name, University of Milwaukee, in the hope of avoiding confusion.
The State University of New York (SUNY) system is similar. Particularly irritating is confusion between the State University of New York at Buffalo (better known as University at Buffalo) and the State University of New York College at Buffalo (better known as Buffalo State College). But few people would say that they graduated from SUNY, only that they graduated from a SUNY school.
The host of The Daily Show is not "John Daily" or "Jon Daily". His name is Jon Stewart. The show he hosts is named as such because it is shown daily Monday through Thursday. (And if that really were his name, it would more likely be spelled "Daley.")
At least professionally. He was born Jon Stewart Leibowitz. (He legally changed his name in the 2000s.)
During the Second World War, American soldiers came across railroad stations with a large sign stating simply, "HALT," and mistook this for the name of the town. In reality, "halt" in German means "stop," and the signs were put there so that people would not attempt to trespass. By the end of the war, there were several instances of towns named Halt across the country.
Funny, as "halt" is also a perfectly common English synonym for "stop" (English and German are related languages, both being West Germanic languages, so this is not an example of a false cognate).
The English word "halt" isn't an inherited cognate from Proto-Germanic via Anglo-Saxon, but rather a direct borrowing from German. The former does exist however, that would be the word hold.
Also, foreigners driving on German motorways often believe at first that "Ausfahrt" is a town's name.
And then there's the story of Ireland's worst driver, the mysterious Polish serial-speedster and parking offender mr. Prawo Jazdy. The Irish police stopped and fined him on numerous occasions, but he constantly managed to evade justice by giving the police a different address every time. Eventually, after more than 50 incidents involving the elusive Prawo Jazdy, someone in the police-force asked their colleagues a somewhat embarrassing question: What is the Polish word for "Driver's License"?
The United States is often considered synonymous with America by certain people, when America really refers to the entire two continents, not just one powerful country.
Actually, the name of the country is in fact America ... compare 'Mexican United States = Mexico', or 'Kingdom of Netherlands = Netherlands'. The two continents are collectively known as 'The Americas', which isn't quite the same. In the English language, and going by those conventions, it's absolutely correct to use 'America' for the 'USA' and 'American' as the demonym. A lot of countries in The Americas, however, have Spanish as first language, and in Spanish the 'rules' change: 'América' is 'The Americas', and they usually refer to 'America' as 'Estados Unidos (United States)' to avoid confusion. Understandably, once you add a lot of political and cultural details, you find that a lot of Latin American people get annoyed by the (technically correct) use of 'America' as synonymous with the 'USA', assuming it's just a case of ignorance or arrogance.
Well, "United Statesian" is rather awkward to say.