With the Super Bowl coming up, it always gets me thinking about the time I learned about how since “Super Bowl” is Trademarked, you will typically hear people in commercials or advertising say “the big game” or another phrase to describe it so they do not get fined, thanks to the NFL (can I say that?) for Trademarking it in 1969. This was also around the time I learned that overusing a companies purchased word or phrase is not always a positive thing for them. Sometimes it is good exposure, but sometimes it devalues your brand.
To me, if someone calls something a Band-Aid, even if it is just a “bandage” or “adhesive bandage” that is great for the marketing team, right? Wrong… sometimes. When people use words that are not the actual brand name, they are giving this recognition to a different brand, diminishing the real brand name. This is commonly called Anthimeria, which “involves turning a word from one part of speech into another. Most commonly, this involves turning a noun into a verb.” Here are some examples that you likely never realized were not actually the real name.
- Band Aid – I think we covered this one enough, but the real name would be bandage or adhesive bandage, unless you are talking about the Kenuvue, recently split off from Johnson & Johnson, Band-Aid.
- Jet Ski – That is if you are actually talking about the Jet Ski that came out in 1973 from Kawasaki. Otherwise, it is just a personal watercraft.
- Jacuzzi – Sticking with the water theme, we also have Jacuzzi. Ahem, I mean… a whirlpool bath.
The truth is that terms we often use to generally refer to products were created by marketing teams who paid money to supplant the actual names in our heads and keep their brand top of mind. Let’s dive into a couple more that you likely use every day and don’t even think about.
- “I’ll Google it” – That is fine, if you really are using Google. However, today we could mean any social media service, Bing, Reddit, or any other platform to get the answer. This is tricky because we don’t even think about it, but how many of you are actually just using Google?
- Chapstick (and Advil) – Yup, that’s right… this one too. There are millions of brands of “lip balm”, but only one (legal) Chapstick. They are owned by the company Haleon, who own another company we use frequently… or at least the name of…
- Bonus word! It’s Advil. This could mean any household pain reliever really, but no matter what brand we have, we always tend to call it Advil.
So, now that you know the difference, are you going to continue to use the Trademark names on these items or do you think you will change the less common generic name? At the very least, it can be a good topic to talk about now that you know a few new tricks of the Trade(mark). I am glad Anthimeria is more common than I realized, but to me, there is still great value in customers using my brand name instead of the general term in day to day conversation. What do you think?