Is there any greater recognition for a brand than getting ‘verbified’? This happens when a brand becomes so popular that the company name replaces the verb used to describe it’s product or services.
Don’t know what I mean?
It’s a Monday morning and you’re running late for a meeting with a client. You’ve missed your train so you’ll have to ‘Uber’ into the city. Hold on, what’s the clients business address again? Just ‘Google’ it. Hop into the Uber and ‘Whatsapp’ your client to let them know you’ll be 10 minutes later than expected. Finally, you’re on your way in, now what to do with the 45 minute commute? Of course – you ‘FaceTime’ your friend to catch up on all the gossip from the weekend!
Using these brand names as verbs has become part of our everyday vocabulary. This constant name dropping of their business is great news for the companies, right?
Wrong. A brand name being used in this way can result in genericide. This is where through popular usage, a brand name can be transformed into a common noun. We’ve seen it happen with aspirin, escalator, thermos and many more; they were originally legally protected trademarks but have since lost legal protection as trademarks by becoming the common name for the product or service they provide.
Brands need to be careful around the marketing of their business name in order to avoid genericide and potentially lose trademark protection. There are many existing trademarks frequently used as generic terms that are at risk of this; Frisbee, Tupperware, Jacuzzi, Vaseline, and Jet Ski just to name a few.
What brand names do you use as verbs? And who’s next to lose their trademark?