General BusinessMarketing

You Know You’ve Made it When You’re Name Becomes a Verb

Few of us will ever obtain the notoriety that Homer Simpson (Matt Groening, The Simpsons creator) did in June, 2001 when his favorite phrase, “Doh!” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.  The inclusion of a word or term in the OED is globally recognized as its formal adoption into the lexicon of the English language.

Several companies and product brand names have achieved similar distinction over time.  Band-Aid, Kleenex, Xerox (although apparently diminishing), Ace Bandage, Jell-O, Q-Tips, Scotch Tape, Velcro, Post-It Notes and even Aspirin are all product or company names that can be found in the dictionary.  The reason that these brands achieved the status of being the de facto title for all similar products is that each of these products created the category that they are apart of.  This wasn’t always because they were the first to market, although they usually were, but sometimes because they were marketed better than competing products in their respective markets’ infancy.

Today, it’s more difficult for one’s brand to reach such lofty levels of recognition.  Barriers to entry are fairly low in virtually all markets and global competition from a larger range of industrialized countries means that there are more companies competing for recognition in almost all market segments.

My belief is that the next measure of true success for branding is when one’s brand is consistently and commonly used as a verb.  Google has achieved this, of course â€“ “I Googled my own name last night and discovered that I’m wanted by the police in five states.”  “Just Google my company name because I chose a stupid domain name that’s too hard to spell out on the phone.”  People like verbs.  They imply action and motion.  People from all walks of life like to attribute some level of effort to what they do.  The easier it is to use your brand as a verb, the more likely it is that it will be used as such.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier to say “I Googled it,” than it is to say “I opened my browser; went to the Google web site; typed in my search string; then read the results.”

So, as you’re contemplating the name of your new company or product, think about how it will be converted to a verb and what is the likelihood that your customers will use it that way.  Feel free to help them along by marketing the name as a verb and encouraging your customers to follow along.  Remember, only your customers can anoint your brand name as having verb status.  If it’s only you who uses it as a verb, it won’t mean anything.  Make it so they want to use it that way.

The world is full of nouns.  Why would you want to be just another noun?  Be a verb and stand out.  OK, pretty corny, but you get the point.

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