Some time back, I was talking with some of my Xerox colleagues about a particular admonition dispensed during orientation: that Xerox is a noun and must by no means be used as a verb. When I was five, before I had ever heard of Xerox Corporation, I remember my piano teacher telling me to “xerox the score to this piece of music so you have a copy to take home with you”. Since then, I have encountered the verb ‘to xerox’ a remarkable number of times.
At first I wondered what the problem was with verbing the company’s venerable name, but I get it now. Xerox makes a lot more than just photocopiers, and as such using ‘Xerox’ as a verb does very much constitute brand dilution.
Now it seems that Google has become concerned about the same thing, and I am again a little confused.
Xerox’s copiers are not its primary source of revenue. The profit margins on them are not as high as on other products.
Google, on the other hand, is about search, first and foremost. So surely they should be thrilled to hear that people frequently google for a given subject. Before they became the behemoth in the field, people didn’t “yahoo” things, they didn’t “lycos” anything, they didn’t “altavista” or “hotbot” or “webcrawler” or “inktomi”. They just searched. And when Google rose up to dominate the industry, it was only natural that their name would become synonymous with search.
In their case, I truly cannot see how it is a bad thing.
I do, however, see a great deal of potential in further verbing of company names, or (as the subject of this post would suggest) “brandverbing”.
Leaving yourself enough time to Burger King before you United is usually a good idea.
Budweisering before you Toyota, perhaps not so much.
And now I need to go and Starbucks before my brain completely LehmanBrotherses.
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