Hand me a Kleenex, I’m going Rollerblading – What happens when a brand gets too big?

Michael Weatherhead
Mweathe 216041883

Iacobucci defines a brand as a promise to customers. A brand is meant to tell customers that they can come to expect a certain level of reliability and quality from your product.

A strong brand can draw in a larger price tag due to the fact that a company’s brand can offset uncertainties or risks associated with the purchase in the mind of the customer.

When we look at internationally recognized brands, it’s easy to understand the above mentioned definition.

With the ever increasing competitive landscape of business, there has never been a more important time to gain customer loyalty and maximize ROI on marketing efforts.

It is argued that creating and developing a strong brand (like the ones pictured to the right), is even more important than marketing the product being sold and can have an enormous value by itself (more on brand value below). This can be an absolute “differentiator” in a competitive market:

In fact, a study done on the importance of building Brand Value has shown just how important spending money, not just advertising, but branding can https://i2.wp.com/popsop.com/wp-content/uploads/image001.pngbe extremely profitable for a company. Companies that have invested more money and resources in their brand as well as their advertising have seen a massive increase in brand value which leads to a better ROI.

The more effective a brand is, the more people will start to associate feelings, personalities, and key words to it. (Click here for more about Brand Association)

Imagine, how coobrand associationl it must be when people internationally start to associate your brand with a personality, emotion, or product?

Surely, creating a brand so strong that your product becomes a household name would be an ideal situation right? Tell that to Band-Aid, Hoover, and Escalator.

Genericide is what happens when a company’s brand gets so big that people start using the brand name as a general term for all products that are similar. For instance, when is the last time you asked for a Kleenex, received a facial tissue and didn’t know the difference? The Kleenex example, is one of far too many brands who became such household names that they lose their “badge of origin“.

When a company’s brand starts being used in everyday conversation and the customer refers to it for an entire product category, they run the risk of losing their unique brand trademark.

If a brand name is considered to be generic, it becomes very difficult for a company to legally stop competitors from capitalizing and using your hard earned brand to their advantage.

So what is the answer? Should a company not build its brand with the hopes of becoming a household name, should they not brand at all?

Clearly, based on the value presented above, that is not the solution. The true answer lies in being diligent and protecting your brand identity.

Behind the scenes, big companies like Google and Xerox fight everyday to maintain their brand uniqueness and protect their trademarks. This is done by setting strict usage standards on how their brand is to be mentioned (I.E.: Don’t google it, instead use google to perform a search).

A great example of this comes from a recently settled case (Costco vs. Tiffany’s) where Costco was sued for selling a Tiffany style ring under the argument that the style of setting had become generic. You can read more about it here.

As flattered as you may be that people have adopted your brand to the point of making it an everyday verb, noun or category descriptor, not protecting your brand could ultimately lead your company to be the next, thermos, zipper, or laundromat (I didn’t even know that was once a trademark).

Michael Weatherhead
Mweathe 216041883


Brand value growth. (2016). Brand value growth. [online] Available at: http://brandvaluegrowth.com/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2016].

Clifford, C. (2014). Why Your Brand Is More Important Than Your Product. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/239915 [Accessed 24 Apr. 2016].

Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason, Ohio.

Ma, W. (2014). The words you never knew were brands. [online] NewsComAu. Available at: http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/the-curse-of-generification-for-brands-such-as-bandaid-hoover-google-xerox-and-escalator/news-story/e0f648fa32d7e07e134d83f889cbf643 [Accessed 26 Apr. 2016].

Managementstudyguide.com. (2016). Brand Association – Meaning and its concepts. [online] Available at: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/brand-association.htm [Accessed 24 Apr. 2016].

Steptoe, Jonhson LLP, (2016). Tiffany & Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp.: avoiding trademark genericide | Lexology. [online] Lexology.com. Available at: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=5d184f63-cd1c-4ed9-910e-3f457816f974 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2016].

Tulett, S. (2016). ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success – BBC News. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27026704 [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].

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