Velcro. A very sticky brand name
What happens when a brand name becoming genericised?
We’ve been creating loads of new Brand Names recently. Property developers, wine brands, a new financial institution and a couple of digital start-ups, and all in the last month or so. Naming isn’t easy but it’s exciting… it’s the start of something new. Dare we say it – it’s the first Touchpoint that brings a brand to life once the strategy is nailed.
A sticky Brand Name is the aim, something relevant and memorable – but just how memorable do you want to become?
Speaking of ‘sticky’ names, this funny spot and microsite from digital agency Walk West for Velcro is a reminder of what can happen when your Trade Mark or Brand Name become so popular or synonymous with a particular product, it becomes used as every day jargon and is in danger of becoming a Generic Trade Mark. This can mean a business loses their Intellectual Property rights in the Trade Mark allowing competitors to use the Genericised Trade Mark to describe their similar products. Owners of a Trade Mark that may be affected in this way can work towards preventing this happening… by the looks of this advertising campaign by Velcro, they’re working hard to keep their Trade Mark – nicely wrapped up with a smile.
An alternative way to describe what Velcro does like ‘tiny material hooks that attached to loops and stick to each other’ is going to struggle to fly, so it looks like Velcro will forever be ‘stuck’ (pardon the pun) with other products using the term Velcro to describe their own products featuring the hook and loop fastening system – Trade Marked or not. But on the upside for Velcro, their brand is always being spread via word of mouth. We’d be pretty happy developing a name that goes on to become this memorable.
Here are some other Trade Marks that might need to watch out.
Generic name: Epinephrine
Generic name: Ballpoint Pen
Owner: Societe Bic
Generic name: Facial Tissue
Generic name: Adhesive bandage
Owned by: Johnson & Johnson
Generic name: Inflated cushioning
Owned by: Sealed Air
Generic name: Front loader waste container
Owned by: Dempster Brothers, Inc
Generic name: Flying disc
Owned by: Wham-O
Generic name: Toy hoop
Owned by: Wham-O
Generic name: Hot tub
Owned by: Jacuzzi
Generic name: Stand-up personal watercraft
Owned by: Kawasaki
Generic name: Table tennis
Owned by: Parker Brothers
Generic name: Polytetrafluoroethylene
Owned by: DuPont
Generic name: Plastic storage containers
Owned by: Earl Tupper
And these are some examples of brand names that have become part of the every day vernacular and have said goodbye to their Trade Marks; thermos, trampoline, linoleum, laundromat, heroin, escalator and dry ice.
But back to Velcro. Is becoming genericised all bad news? As the Velcro ‘lawyers’ mention in their song, “we made half of a billion last year…” so while their Trade Mark may be in danger, they don’t seem to be in dire straits (oops, did we just infringe on another Trade Mark by saying that?).