When Brands Become Products

When a business is started, the dream is to gain so much word of mouth that the brand becomes a household name – or is it? For the companies that introduced us to Thermos, Cellophane, and Bubble Wrap, that dream became a nightmare. In this month’s ‘Powered by Creativity,’ we take a look at the advantages and disasters that happen when a brand becomes ‘genericized.’


Living the American Dream

Picture this: Someone has an incredible idea for a unique product to put on the market, and a dream to start their own business and make a living by reproducing this product to make life easier for millions of consumers. After all of their hard work planning, saving, spending, and branding the new product, it becomes phenomenally successful on the market. This is great news; more people engaged in a brand with purchase power will lead to higher sales just by word of mouth. However, in order to hold onto the exclusivity of the brand, the company will need to toe the line of popularity vs. becoming such a household name that the brand now becomes the name of the product itself.


Be careful what you wish for

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when a brand becomes a common name that turns into the name of the product itself, then the business has a problem. Once the brand becomes the common name used to describe multiple products that are similar to a company’s product, then not only is the brand image oversaturated and devalued, but the company’s trademark becomes vulnerable to loss of legal protection for exclusive rights to the name.


A good example of this is Bubble Wrap, which was introduced by Sealed Air Corporation as wallpaper in 1960, but came to prominence as packaging material after being used to ship IBM computers. The product name is technically “air bubble packaging,” but because all products of this design became commonly known by the layman’s term of bubble wrap, the brand name became muddled with the product name and therefore not only lost its brand name value, but became a generic trademark as well.

In today’s world, it is so important to distinguish your brand identity in the marketplace and create loyalty not only for producing a reliable product, but because your brand image is superior to others and top of mind when purchasing that product. One of our specialties at Stray Media Group is helping clients maintain an elevated and consistent brand image to distinguish their products in the marketplace. If you are looking for expert knowledge to create, refresh, or grow your brand, we would love to meet with you; contact us today!



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