Verb-ization

Googling, tweeting are parts of our everyday vocabulary. Netflixing and kindling are not! So here’s a million dollar question: what takes it for your brand to be used as a verb? Brand becoming a verb is immensely powerful. The most important thing being it gains top of the mind brand positioning. Think of search engine and Google comes to mind or think of spreadsheet and Excel strikes you instantaneously.

One argument on what takes for a brand to be verb-ized is that the name should have the potential to verb up. That’s true in some sense. A better way to put this would be if verb-ed up, the name should not have a preexisting meaning (like kindling or living in case of Kindle and Live search respectively). But more important things that play a role here are the widespread use of the product (of the same brand), superiority of the offering and the viral effect. When you keep using the same product again and again, and it is superior enough to dominate the product category, it becomes easier to be used as a verb. Viral effect does play a big role as well. It becomes easier to be used as a verb if the people you are talking to know what it means. Like it makes more sense when you ask someone to xerox it for you and you get a photocopy done.

But then verb-ization can sometimes be a double-edged sword. How often have you bought a HP machine and xeroxed on it? Xerox became so integrated in human vocabulary that sometimes it doesn’t strike us that Xerox is in fact a brand, which is definitely not ideal for Xerox. It takes a lot of toll to build a brand, and while it’s a dream for every company to take their brand to the point of verb-ization, it is important to make sure that the brand doesn’t become too generic to lose its identity. It would be really destructive for Google, the product, if people starts googling on Bing to make their next purchase or plan their next vacation!

P.S. Thanks to Nandeeta Seth, Rafat Sarosh, Miles Witherspoon and Shailesh Shah for their inputs.

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