Branded Standards

May 6th, 2013

Did you know that Bubble Wrap, Velcro and Frisbee are all trademarked brand names? Have you ever called a Frisbee a flying disc? If you have a product that uses a type of “Velcro”, but it’s not actually the Velcro brand, you legally need to call it “hook and loop”. Also, did you know that in some parts of the country, people call all soda “Coke”? I’ve even heard people ask for a “clear Coke” when referring to a Sprite or 7up.

Nerf frisbee image

Naming a brand is significant as it gives personality to a product. It becomes recognizable, memorable and helps sell the product. Some brand names are so timeless, powerful and well-known in our language that we use them as the standard to identify a generic product. This phenomena is called “genericized trademarks”.

I was inspired to write this blog post when I saw an episode of Cake Boss where he goes to Italy and teaches a baker to make New York Cheesecake. When he asks for cream cheese the baker doesn’t know to what he is referring. It took a while, but eventually the baker says “Philadelphia?”. I found it funny that they knew Philadelphia but not cream cheese. It makes you wonder how many other products are referred to by a brand name and not their generic name.

Out of curiosity, we started thinking of other brands that have become product name standards like Band-Aid, Q-Tip, ChapStick, Jello, Nerf, Kleenex, Scotch tape, Sharpie and Post-It. Some brand names, like Zipper, Thermos and Yo-Yo were originally trademarked, but eventually lost their legal protection in the US.

What other brands do you know that could be added to this list?
Bandaid photo

Chapstick image

Sharpie Post-it and Scotch tape


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