Have you committed genericide? I have. I do it at least once a week in fact.
I commit genericide at work when I add more Post-its of things to do to my computer screen. I do it at home – when I’m relaxing in my garden in the hot weather with a Popsicle or when I’m video messaging my folks via Skype. I do it at breakfast over a bowl of Cornflakes, when I’m traveling up and down the tube on an Escalator or when at my local supermarket hurriedly buying some Sellotape to wrap my niece’s last-minute birthday present.
We all commit genericide on a daily basis and mostly do it without knowing it.
Post-Its, Hoover, Sellotape, Thermos, Google... What do all these names have in common? They are all brand names that have become or are in danger of becoming victims of generalisation.
This happens when a trademark that used to refer to a particular product is used to describe a whole group of products. Once this happens, it's hard to keep the trademark. Google is on the verge of suffering the same fate. The name is already officially recognised as a verb and with the phrase ‘Google it’ used instead of web searching it’s in danger of losing its trademark status.
The dream for a brand holder or a brand creator is to get the company name on the lips of the consumer, we want it to be memorable and spoken among friends and family so much that it can actually have a negative effect on the business.
The more popular you are as a brand, the more your name is referenced by your consumers, the more likely you are to become a victim too.
But, is this a nice problem to have?