the product naming blog

« Happy Memorial Day from Strategic Name Development | Main | Tablet Product Naming = Pad+Smartphone = Padfone. For now. »

May 31, 2011

How to "Verb Up" Your Brand Naming

The debate continues today about whether or not is is a good thing if your brand name is used as a verb.

Duncan Stewart at The Globe and Mail says that "We've known for years that when a specific consumer brand name becomes the generic equivalent for the entire category (Kleenex, Xerox, Aspirin) that it was worth a lot of money. Products so honoured sell for premium prices and generate premium margins."

Skype_Bing_Facebook.pngHe contends that the fact Skype is used as a verb by millions of people (as in "Skype me"), the company was sold for $8.5 billion despite running at a loss with revenues of only $860 milion.

I have slowly come around to the idea that getting your trademark verbed is a good thing, not least because "verbing delights our brains."

We know that companies try hard to prevent it from happening. In 2006, I wrote that "if your product does something new and not easily described, like TiVo or Skype, you can pretty much count on getting verbified."

Stewart's point is that consumers choose what gets verbed, and the brand name that gets verbed often gets absorbed into industry use. A brand name has been truly verbed if we stop using capitals in its verb form. Think about how we "fedex" something rather than "Fedex" it or "facebook" rather than "Facebook" each other.

Skype, I would say, has not been de-capitalized in its verb form, but its just a matter of time.

A good article on Brand Matters notes that when Microsoft gave the world "Bing," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said the name could potentially "verb up." This, he thought, would be a good thing.

The article then goes on to show us how to prevent a verbed brand from being a generic one:

1. Make clear to consumers that the action suggested by the brandverb (eg "Googling") cannot be made without using the branded product or service (eg Google).

2. Build the verbed brand into taglines, slogans, and/or logos to reinforce the above point (eg "Googling is Impossible Without Google")

3. Register the form of the brand name being used as a brandverb.

4. Incorporate appropriate usage into brand guidelines.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Posted by William Lozito at May 31, 2011 8:54 AM
Posted to | |

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Leave a comment