26 June 2006

generic

Browsing through Kottke today, I found a blurb about brand genericide.

We all know how we refer to tissues as Kleenex and bandages as Band-Aids and copying as Xeroxing. And I always considered this a negative effect of consumerism and marketing—the colloquial terms implying dominion in the market and society. And, yes, that is true. But, it can also be detrimental to the brand.

Wikipedia says genericide is "the process by which trademark rights are diminished or lost as a result of common use in the marketplace."

"A trademark owner may need to take special proactive measures in order to retain exclusive rights to the trademark," says wikipedia. Xerox and Band-Aid have apparently been proactive in their marketing campaigns, but they certainly didn't have an effect on me, personally.

Kottke links to a list of proprietary eponyms (i.e. brand names that have fallen into common use.) Of the possibly surprising:
• Styrofoam
• Thermos
• Escalator
• Muzak
• Chapstick

This is all interesting for both its cultural and linguistic implications.

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