When A Brand Becomes The Category Descriptor

Derrick DayeSeptember 10, 20081 min

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Richard, a VP of Marketing in San Diego, California who has this question about brand naming.

What are your thoughts on when a brand name like Xerox becomes the generic term for photocopying?

Richard, thanks for asking. That a brand name becomes the category descriptor is a double edged sword. While it is flattering that the brand has such a presence in the market that it becomes the name for the category, this also makes its name much more difficult to protect legally. Also, the brand’s points of difference disappear as the category becomes synonymous with the brand. The way to address this is to always say “Kleenex branded facial tissue,” “Xerox branded copiers,” or “Band-Aid branded adhesive bandages,” etc..

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One comment

  • Michelle

    September 11, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Having the consumer always link your product/product category with your brand is essentially the ultimate goal of any branding campaign. Though there are drawbacks like the ones listed above, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Often, consumers are willing to pay extra for the more popular brand. Thus, having such a high status entitles a brand to charge more for its products.

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