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May 25, 2006

Brand Naming: To Google or Not to Google - That is Genericization

GoogleGoogle is worried about the , which means that it doesn't want its trademark to become generic in meaning and suffer the same fate as Kleenex, Rollerblade and Xerox.

I think that genericization is a bug bear of product naming. On the one hand you want your brand name to be a household word, but on the other you want it to still mean your product.

KleenexThe bone of contention is the infinitive "to google". Google claims that the overuse of the word Google as a verb will lead to "Googling" being the generic term for "searching the Internet with a search engine".

RollerbladeGoogle has gone so far as to remove the usage from the Wordspy , but as Jason Lee Miller (who has done some pretty cool brand name research) points out, various forms of the word Google remain in the dictionary and in common discourse: Googlebombing," "Googleverse," and "Googlejuice." As well as Googtopia, Googler and Googlite.

And it is not entirely clear to me if Google allows you to do all the Googling you long as you use Google? Do they really sit around at (called the ) and not "google"?

XeroxLee also points out that Google did not raise the alarm when Pontiac asked users to "Google Pontiac" in a recent TV campaign (which we linked to in an ) and it does seem unlikely that people will start "googling about" with Yahoo! and MSN Search.

However, I believe Google should by all means protect its trademark - the Google brand name is one with massive equity behind it and they would be remiss in not being concerned about its misuse.

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Posted by William Lozito at May 25, 2006 2:03 PM
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Of course many wish they had the kinds of considerations before them that Google has.

When you noted that Google has gone so far as to remove the usage from the Wordspy online dictionary I began to really feel the tension.

Words are powerful. And for that reason we ought always be careful of how we use them and attentive to how others use them.

However, words are so powerful and language a kind of beast that does what it pleases that it doesn't make sense to try and control how words will be used - by taking them out of a dictionary.

Google's action seems a bit like the stereotype fundamentalist preacher that says, "don't ever use that word again".

What will be the Seven Words you can't find on the Internet?

I wonder what George Carlin would do with this?

Your site tends to get my mind moving - thanks!

The "googling" issue was discussed a few months ago at SEOMoz, a blog about search engine marketing:

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