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How to Become a Household Name

February 20, 2017

By (Sophia Bernazzani)

free guide to social and PR branding

“Google it.” “Can you pass me some Kleenex?” “Let’s take the Jet Ski out.”

These are just a few examples of how brand names have been worked into our common vocabularies. When people ask for a Kleenex, they usually just mean they want a tissue, but because the Kleenex brand is so popular, we’ve started conflating the popular brand name with the object itself.

It’s every brand marketer’s dream for their product, service, or website to become so ubiquitous it replaces the name of the original concept. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the stories of four brands that turned product names into verbs that then replaced the generic terms, along with lessons for marketers on how it was done.

What Is Verbification?

Anthimeria is the rhetorical term for what we’re discussing here: It’s the linguistic term for when we use one part of speech as another part of a speech, such as a noun for a verb. When it comes to branded words, there isn’t an exact formula to explain why some brands become “verbified” and others don’t. For example, why has Super Glue been “verbified,” but Gorilla Glue hasn’t?

Lots of brands have cracked the code for becoming a household name (or verb), and we’re diving into how we think a few technology brands accomplished it in this blog post.

Four Brands That Replaced Product Names

1) YouTube

What it Replaced:

Video streaming website YouTube replaced phrases like “search for a video” or “watch a video online.”

Used in a Sentence:

“You should YouTube the latest Saturday Night Live monologue, Kate McKinnon was hilarious in it.”

Why it Caught on:

A huge part of YouTube’s widespread popularity is its first-mover advantage — it was one of the first video hosting sites ever founded, and after Google purchased it in 2006, it started growing rapidly. Today, YouTube has more than 1 billion users worldwide, and it accounts for more than 15% of all internet traffic globally.

YouTube has maintained its popularity over more than 10 years with a variety of innovative advertising techniques. Because YouTube is a subsidiary of Google, the biggest search engine in the world, it has the advantage of being one of the first search results when users conduct Google searches for videos. Check it out: When you conduct a Google search for “cooking tutorial videos,” YouTube is the first search result:


Instead of only advertising YouTube online and on social media platforms, in the past several years, YouTube started advertising video creators with billboards, TV ads, and print ads to broaden its reach.

Another factor that’s played a role in YouTube’s popularization is the decline in cable TV subscriptions, especially among younger video viewers. Now that so much video content is available for free online, more viewers are heading to sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu to consume videos, TV shows, and movies they …read more

Source:: HubSpot Blog