Words, oh beautiful words. How we humans adore thee. The words we assign to people, places, and objects that we encounter are the basis of how we communicate with each other and how we define the world around us.
In the realm of advertising, specific terminology is extremely important. No matter which particular language you speak, accurate word usage is meant to be expressive enough to persuade consumers to purchase a particular product or service. In many cases, branding has had an unexpected cultural effect. Sometimes the names of products or services we use become so ingrained into our collective psyche that the brand itself becomes part of our vocabulary. Take for instance, Coca-Cola. This drink has become such a worldwide phenomenon that, when the masses want a caramel-colored carbonated beverage, many tend to refer to any cola as a “coke” (even if it happens to be a completely different brand). Or, for another example, take this object:
It’s an item that most of us use every single day to keep our pants from falling down and keep our jackets fitting neatly on our bodies. As you already know, it is a zipper. But, what you may not already know is, that at one point, the zipper was a legally trademarked name owned by the B.F Goodrich Corporation (yes, the very same company that made those tires for your car). Because of its widespread popularity and usage throughout the world, the brand became synonymous with the object and the trademark was cancelled (lest the legal system become overrun with trademark infringement cases).
And, that place with all the coin-operated machines that washes and dries your clothes? A laundromat. Yep, the “Laundromat” was once the place you went to use the machines owned and operated by the trademark owner Westinghouse Electric Co. Over the years the term has become so widely used that the trademark no longer exists and owners of laundromats are free to use this nomenclature without fear of legal repercussion when naming their coin-operated laundry facilities.
Sometimes, a service becomes so popular so fast that it changes said service from a noun to a verb. Take for instance the most popular and widely used internet search engine around the world: Google. At first, Google was simply the site people used to search online for information on just about anything imaginable. And, it works. So well, in fact, that it is now being widely used as an action verb (e.g. “I needed examples of brands that prove my point of this blog, so I googled them.”)
So, if you ever find yourself asking the question: “What effect does brand advertising have on my everyday life?” Just look around you. The next time you take an aspirin, jump on your trampoline, wrap your lunch in cellophane, play with a yo-yo, or even download an app off the app store, remember that, at one time or another, these brands were all registered trademarks. Now, they’re just commonplace.