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Genericide: When You Brand Becomes Generic

Developing a brand is such a critical element of your long term success. You want everyone to know your name and buy your brand, but what happens when your brand becomes the generic name for that product or service?

Genericism is the situation where a registered trademark becomes the industry name. It is the result of a brand becoming too successful. Is that the ultimate definition of irony?

Not sure what we mean? How about Biro, Xerox, Rollerblade, Thermos and Bandaid. These were once registered marks but are now merely a category label. Who wants to say roller ball pen, photocopier, in-line skates, insulated flask or adhesive dressing? The brand names are much cooler:

And who ‘searches the internet’? We Google it.

What about a having your turn on a ‘personal watercraft’? No, we blat it on a Jet Ski.

On the news at night do you hear the journalist describe a police situation where the baddie is disabled with an ‘electroshock weapon’. No, the villain was Tasered.

While this may appear to be the pinnacle of brand leadership, it can cause the opposite effect to category leadership. Without brand name exclusivity, a brand then has no competitive advantage when attempting to distinguish its product. This spells great news for your competitors.

The lesson learned is that from the commencement of your trademark, avoid using it as a noun or verb. A trademark is an adjective. And make sure you mange your communication strategy to ensure that you avoid genericism.

Untapped Agency offers Trademarks Attorney services and is a Licensing Agent for Brand Owners, Licensees, Manufacturers and Retailers. We extend iconic brands, copyright, music, designs and trademarks into innovative, new consumer products, services and promotions.