20 Brands So Powerful You Say Them Every Day

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Some brands are so great, they have become a part of everyday speech.  Can you even think of another name for a Band-Aid?

These terms, like Saran Wrap and Chap Stick, are brands that have turned into proprietary eponyms.  In other words, they are general words that are, or were at one time, company trademarks.

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Nine trademarked brands have become such common terminology that they are defined in the Oxford Dictionary:

  1. Hoover
  2. Xerox
  3. Thermos
  4. Prozac
  5. Spandex
  6. Jello
  7. Tampax
  8. Band-Aid
  9. Viagra

There are literally hundreds of brands that have made the leap from product to everyday jargon. They have completely dominated their markets.

This sounds like a great thing for companies– but it isn’t always.  Once a brand name becomes mainstream, it’s nearly impossible to control and protect the trademark.  And if companies aren’t careful to renew their trademarks every few years, they may lose the rights to their brand name forever. 

Once a word becomes legally available to the public, it becomes much harder to regain the legal rights.  Brands like Yo-Yo and Escalator were once protected, but now their marks are defunct.

Take Spam for example.  The brand is trademarked by Hormel Foods Corp, but instead of being thought of as canned/smoked ham, the word went viral and is now thought of first and foremost as unwanted email and annoying online interactions. 

Still, for most brands that make this leap, it does more good than harm.  Brands that dominate categories, like Apple’s iPod and the MP3 market, are front of mind when consumers make purchasing decisions, which leads to increased sales.

You probably don’t realise how these brands have taken over your vocabulary. 

Xerox

Company: Xerox Corporation

Category it dominates: Photocopy machines

Definition: xerox n.; xeroxes n. pl. : photocopy produced by an electronic xerography machine

Kleenex

Company: Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Category it dominates: Tissues

Definition: Kleenex n.; kleenexes n. pl. : soft facial tissue

Band-Aid

Company: Johnson & Johnson

Category it represents: Adhesive bandages

Definition: Band aid, band-aid, bandaid n.; band aids, band-aids, bandaids n. pl. : plastic adhesive bandage strip

iPod

Company: Apple Inc.

Category it represents: MP3 Players

Definition: n; A pocket-sized device used to play music files

Google

Company: Google Inc.

Category it represents: Web search

Definition: Google v.; googled v. p.; googling v. pr. : to perform a Web-based search-engine query

Beer Nuts

Company: Beer Nuts, Inc. (Beer Nuts was trademarked in the 1950's from a 1930's product)

Category it dominates: Peanuts (primarily ones with a husk but no shell)

Definition: n; A trademarked peanut snack served with its husk but no shell, in a sweet-and-salty glaze; also used generically for a peanut served with its husk but not the shell.

Boogie Board

Company: Invented and mass produced in 1971 by Tom Morey

Category it represents: Body boards

Definition: n; A short, lightweight surfboard often ridden by lying prone; also called bodyboard.

Chap stick

Company: American Home Products Corporation

Category it represents: Lip balm

Definition: n; Flavored lip balm stick

Dumpster

Company: Dempster Brothers, Inc. (term was first used commercially in 1936 and product was patented in 1940)

Category it represents: Waste vehicles and receptacles

Definition: n; Trademark used for containers designed for receiving, transporting, and dumping waste materials.

Frisbee

Company: Wham-O Manufacturing Corporation

Category it represents: Flying saucer and sport

Definition: Frisbee n.; frisbees n. pl. : toy flying saucer for toss games

Hi-Liter

Company: Avery Dennison Corporation

Category it represents: Marker

Definition: n. 1. An area or a spot in a drawing, painting, or photograph that is strongly illuminated. 2. An especially significant or interesting detail or event. tr.v. high·light·ed, high·light·ing, high·lights 1. To give a highlight to (the subject of a painting, for example). 2. a. To make prominent; emphasise. b. To be a highlight of. 3. To mark (important passages of text) with a usually fluorescent marker as a means of memory retention or for later reference.

Kitty Litter

Company: Edward Lowe Industries, Inc.

Category it represents: Cat box filler

Definition: n; Granulated clay; placed in a container where it absorbs the waste products of a cat or dog

Laundromat

Company: Westinghouse Electric Corporation

Category it represents: Coin-operated laundry businesses

Definition: n; A self-service laundry (service mark Laundromat) where coin-operated washing machines are available to individual customers

Ping Pong

Company: Parker Brothers

Category it represents: Table tennis

Definition: n; A game (trademark Ping-Pong) resembling tennis but played on a table with paddles and a light hollow ball

Post-It

Company: 3M

Category it represents: Adhesive note pads

Definition: n; brand name for a slip of notepaper that has an adhesive that allows it to stick to a surface and be removed without damaging the surface.

Q-Tip

Company: Unilever

Category it represents: Cotton swab

Definition: n; a swab consisting of a short stick of wood, paper, or plastic with wads of cotton at one or both ends

Thermos

Company: Thermos L.L.C. (trademarked in 115 countries)

Category it represents: Drink container

Definition: n; a type of stoppered vacuum flask used to preserve the temperature of its contents

Viagra

Company: Pfizer Inc.

Category it represents: Sildenafil citrate; aphrodisiac

Definition: n; a drug, sildenafil, that allows increased blood flow into male genitalia; used to treat erectile impotence in men

Wite-Out

Company: BIC

Category it represents: Correction marker

Definition: n; a quick-drying fluid, typically white, applied with a small brush to a piece of paper so as to cover typed or written errors and make a blank surface for corrections

Velcro

Company: Invented by Swiss engineer, George de Mestral. In 1978 de Mestral's patent expired and Velcro is now trademarked in 159+ countries.

Category it represents: Fastener

Definition: n; nylon fabric used as a fastening; v; to fasten

Some brands that become mainstream are the products of sneaky marketing. Check out:

10 Sneaky Marketing Tricks That Got You Hooked >
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