August 26, 2011

Brandverbs: The Highest Mark of Success?

When was the last time you said: “I’m going to go use a search engine to look up information on tonight’s event.” The answer to that is either never, or sometime circa the early 2000’s, but since then it’s more than likely that most Americans say “I’m going to go Google more information on tonight’s event.” And that is my friend is brandverbing.

Companies like Xerox, Hoover, and even Google have gone to great lengths to avoid their brands becoming verbs, but why? When a brand becomes a verb you know that it has reached mass market consumer recognition, so wouldn’t becoming so engrained in society that your brand becomes part of the language be the ultimate degree of success for a brand?

So while others have fought hard to keep their brand from becoming a verb others are spending a lot of time and resources to make sure their brand is used as verbs by consumers in everyday life and conversation. Enter: Vanguard; an investment company who in 2010 began a highly visible campaign to turn their brand name into a verb.

The move by Vanguard shows that they too recognize the significance and potential payoff for their brand to be used in everyday language just like Xerox or Google has now experienced. And unlike a brand becoming genericized like asprin, zipper, and escalator (yup, these were all trademarked brand names at one point) a brand that becomes a verb is more appealing than its generic counterpart and has less risk in losing its brand appeal. Seth Godin, American author and speaker, said: “people care much more about verbs than nouns. They care about things that move, that are happening, that change. They care about experiences and events and the way things make us feel. Nouns just sit there, inanimate lumps. Verbs are about wants and desires and wishes.”

So if what Godin says is true, every brand should strive to be a brandverb when appropriate. After all a brand is more than a product or logo, a brand is about an experience and the expectations we have of that brand. So if becoming a brandverb will incite those feelings then what’s the big deal? These days I believe becoming a brandverb is not a kiss of death but the mark of success.

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