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The Brand Name Battle

Posted At: February 13, 2013 2:30 P.M.
by Gillian Richard

“Just Google it, and when you get it printed, Xerox it.”

What’s wrong with this sentence? Companies like Google and Xerox don’t like their trademarked names used in a way other than when referring to the company, but why not?

When people use trademarks as verbs, does it help or hurt the brand image? With so many competitors in the market, especially the online environment, I can’t see how any name recognition could hurt a brand. In my opinion, if your name is the one in the mouths of your audience, you’ve won the battle. Isn’t that what branding is all about?

One of the many hats we wear as PR practitioners is one that works to create a brand identity. This identity can come from almost anywhere, and is a way of showcasing our company in a positive light.

Look at Nike. Nike is one of the most successful brands out there. Nike has worked for years to establish itself as a company that athletes everywhere can trust. The “swoosh” symbol is so easily recognized that Nike no longer feels the need to put its name next to it — we all understand what the symbol stands for. Nike is a company with strong name, and symbol, recognition.

So why would some companies not want this name recognition? Maybe it’s because they think it diminishes their stature as a company. Or maybe it’s because they don’t like losing control over how the brand name is used. Maybe it’s even because they feel like the brand name suffers when it’s used in an off-hand way.

Something seems to be wrong here, though. Obviously trademarks are important and should be respected. But how awkward does it sound it say, “Just Bing it,” or even “Can you Panasonic a copy of this for me?”

I can’t tell you why, out of all the companies in the world, only some names get picked to be used as verbs. I can tell you, however, it probably has something to do with the fact that they are the most used brands on the market, and that this is probably a direct result of the use of the name in everyday conversation. I can also tell you that if I was a competitor, I would be upset if my brand wasn’t the name used.

Having a strong brand identity is proof that someone somewhere is doing his job right. So maybe a brand name isn’t used for its intended purpose every time. But hey, no publicity is bad publicity, right?


  1. Post comment

    Great artice! This is an interesting take on the “genericide”/brand sanctity discussion that I don’t think I’ve really considered before.

    Thanks for sharing!


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