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The Top 100 “Genericized” Brands (Ones Synonymous With Their Product Category)

How many brands can you count in the following sentence:

“I needed some aspirin, a band-aid, ace bandage — and probably a jacuzzi!– after my zipper got caught in an escalator while my realtor friend and I carried a bubble-wrapped ping-pong table from a dumpster to our jeep and slipped on our California stir fry with broccolini take-out.”

If you counted thirteen then you are correct!

These brands are called anything from “Colloquialized,” “Synonymous,” to “Genericized” — they are brands whose names are used in day to day conversations as synonymous with their product categories (e.g. more people refer to a “frisbee” than a “flying disc.”).

I made a list of the top 100 colloquial brands using one simple criterion: would I use the brand name instead of the product category if I was referring to the product/activity in a sentence (e.g. “I need a band-aid” versus “I need an adhesive bandage.”).

Enjoy!

The Top 100 “Genericized” Brands (Synonomous With Their Product Categories)

  1. Band-Aid — An adhesive bandage brand owned by Johnson & Johnson.
  2. Zipper — This device that brings together two pieces of fabric was originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich but is now generic.^
  3. Jell-O — A brand name of gelatin desserts owned by Kraft Foods.
  4. Yo-Yo — Generic (originally a trademark of Duncan Yo-Yo Company.^
  5. Frisbee — A flying disc product trademarked by Wham-O.
  6. Escalator — The leading brand for a moving staircase was originally a trademark of Otis Elevator and is now generic.^
  7. Butterscotch — This flavor is generic but was originally a trademark of Parkinson’s.^
  8. Videotape — Originally trademarked by Ampex Corp.^
  9. Popsicle — The popular brand of ice pop is trademarked by Unilever.
  10. Thermos — This vacuum flask from Thermos GmbH was declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.^
  11. Kleenex — A brand name for a toiletry paper-based products owned by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide.
  12. Scotch-Tape — A transparent adhesive brand owned by 3M.
  13. Vaseline — A brand of petroleum jelly-based products owned by Unilever.
  14. Ping Pong — A brand of table tennis originally trademarked by Jacques and Son (and later Parker Bros)
  15. Windex — A glass gleaner now owned by SC Johnson.
  16. Heroin — This semi-synthetic opioid drug was originally trademarked by Bayer AG and is now a generic trademark.^
  17. Q-Tips — The leading cotton swab brand is owned by Unilever.
  18. Saran Wrap — The thin, clingy plastic wrap brand owned by S.C. Johnson & Sons.
  19. Plexiglas(s) — Plexiglas is a popular brand for shatter-proof glass trademarked by Rohm and Haas (later sold to Arkema).
  20. Kool-Aid — A brand of flavored drink mix owned by Kraft Foods Company.
  21. Velcro — A fabric hook-and-loop fastener brand owned by the Velcro company.
  22. Bubble Wrap — A set of cushioning/packaging products trademarked brand of Sealed Air Corp.
  23. Cellophane — A thin transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose, this trademark is a trademark of Innovia Films Ltd (originally a trademark of Dupont) though it’s generic in some counties.^
  24. Kerosene — This combustible liquid became a genericized trademark after Abraham Gesner held the trademark for many years.
  25. Aspirin (Bayer) — Still a Bayer trademark in many countries but considered generic in the U.S.^
  26. Dumpster — This large steel trash receptacle is a trademark of the Dumpster brand
  27. Styrofoam — This foam insulation is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company.
  28. Super Heroes — This type of superhuman characters a trademark of DC Comics and Marvel Comics.
  29. Trampoline — This recreational device consisting of strong fabric and coiled springs is a generic trademark after being trademarked by George Nissen).
  30. Tupperware — These hard-plastic containers are a trademark of Tupperware Brands Corp.
  31. Post-It Note — A piece of paper with adhesive meant used to temporarily stick to something — this trademark is owned by 3M.
  32. AstroTurf — This artificial turf set is a trademark of AstroTurf LLC (originally trademarked by Monstanto).
  33. Crock-Pot — This slow-cooking device is a trademark of Sunbeam Products.
  34. Ace Bandage — The elastic bandage is owned and trademarked by 3M.
  35. Rollerblade — This inline skate is owned by Nordica.
  36. Murphy Bed — This brand of beds that come out of a wall is owned by Murphy Bed Co. Inc. which lost its trademark in 1989 when Murphy Bed was deemed a generic term.
  37. Hacky Sack — This foot-bag was a trademark of Wham-O and is now generic.
  38. Chapstick — This lip balm brand is a trademark of Pfizer but is considered a genericized trademark.^
  39. Wite-Out — This correction fluid is a trademark of Bic Corporation
  40. Drano — This drain cleaner is owned by S.C. Johnson & Sons.
  41. Nyquil — This night-time medication is owned by Procter & Gamble
  42. Realtor — The National Association of Realtors owns this trademark identified with members of its real estate organization.
  43. Tarmac — Tarmac Limited owns this trademark for road-surface materials.
  44. Taser — This stun gun is a trademark owned by Taser International.
  45. U-haul — This delivery service is owned by AMERCO.
  46. Tabasco — This hot sauce is a trademark of McIlhenny Co.
  47. Speedo — This term for a tight-fitting bathing suit is a trademark owned by Pentland Group.
  48. Stetson — Old Granddad Industries owns the trademark for Stetson, a term used for a cowboy hat.
  49. Dry Ice — This solid carbon dioxide-based cooling agent is a trademark of Dry Ice Co.
  50. Powerpoint — This presentation software is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.
  51. Photoshop — This graphics editing software program is owned by Adobe Systems Inc.
  52. Winnebago — This line of recreational vehicles (RVs) is owned by Winnebago Industries.
  53. Cuisinart — This food processor set of appliances is a trademark owned by Conair Corp.
  54. Formica — A brand of composite materials owned by Formica Corp/Fletcher Building.
  55. Sharpie — This brand of markers is a trademark of Newell Rubbermaid.
  56. Lysol — This brand of disinfectant cleaners is trademarked by Reckitt Benckiser.
  57. Zip-loc — This brand of re-sealable zipper storage bags is owned by S.C. Johnson & Son.
  58. Onesies — This infanty bodysuit is a brand/trademark owned by Gerber Childenswear.
  59. Dramamine — A motion-sickness medication owned by Prestige Brands.
  60. Cigarette Boat — This brand of boats (also called “go-fast” or “rum-runner” boats) is owned by Cigarette Racing.
  61. Skype — This Internet-based method to make phone calls is owned by Skype the company.
  62. Armor-All — This brand of car-care products is owned by Armored AutoGroup.
  63. Google — This term is often used as a verb related to an Internet search and is owned by Google.
  64. Jet Ski — The personal watercraft brand owned by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
  65. Advil — The Ibuprofen-based pain relief owned by Pfizer.
  66. Dust Buster — This portable vacuum cleaner from Black and Decker is seen as a generic brand in some parts of the world.^
  67. Memory Stick — This portable digital storage device is owned by Sony Corp.
  68. Jacuzzi — A line of whirlpool bathtubs and spas from Jacuzzi the company.
  69. Matchbox Cars — The die cast toy cars owned by Mattel.
  70. Word — This word processing software program is owned by Microsoft Corp.
  71. Muzak — The background music brand is owned by Muzak Holdings LLC.
  72. Jeep — This oldest line of off-road vehicles is owned by Chrysler.
  73. Excel — This spreadsheet software program is owned by Microsoft Corp.
  74. FedEx — This brand, owned by FedEx Corp., has been widely used as the term for fast delivery of packages.
  75. Bengay — This heat rub used to relieve body pain is owned by Johnson & Johnson.
  76. Bisquick — A pre-mixed product used to bake pancakes, biscuits and other baked goods owned by General Mills.
  77. Brillo Pad — A steel-wool scouring pad used to clean dishes is a brand/trademark owned by Church and Dwight.
  78. Britta — The line of water filtration products is owned by Clorox.
  79. Coke — This carbonated beverage is owned by Coca Cola Corp.
  80. Groupon — This local deals Web service is owned by Groupon in Chicago, Ill.
  81. Head & Shoulders — – This anti-dandruff shampoo is owned by Proctor & Gamble.
  82. Zipcar — This membership-based car sharing service is owned by Zipcar the company.
  83. JumboTron — A large-screen television brand/trademark owned by Sony (though they discontinued selling the product in 2001.^).
  84. Levi’s — This brand of denim is a trademark brand owned by Levi Staruss & Co.
  85. Mack Truck — This line of off-road and on-road trucks is owned by Renault Vehicules Industriels.
  86. Pepto Bismol — This bismuth subsalicylate-based drug used for diarrhea and indigestion is owned by Procter and Gamble.
  87. Polaroid — This term has been used to represent the concept of an instant photograph and is owned by Polaroid Corp.
  88. Roto-Rooter — The in-person plumbing service is owned by the Roto-Rooter Group, Inc.
  89. Swiffer — The cleaning products brand that uses replaceable refills and pads is owned by Procter and Gamble.
  90. Tums — This tablet form heart-burn relief brand is owned by SmithLine Beecham Corp.
  91. Tylenol — The acetaminophen-based pain relief brand is owned by McNeil Consumer Healthcare (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
  92. Xerox — The term Xerox has been widely used to reflect an electronic copy of an image and is owned by Xerox Corp.
  93. Krazy Glue — This powerful glue is owned by Elmer’s.
  94. Vespa — This brand of scooter is owned by Italian-based Piaggio.
  95. Walkman — This portable music device is a brand owned by Sony.
  96. Netbook — This generic term for a portable computer was once a trademark owned by Psion for their netBook (it was cancelled in 2009*).
  97. Zamboni — This truck-like vehicle used to resurface ice is owned by Frank J. Zamboni & Co. Inc.
  98. Altoids — Wrigley owns this brand of breath mints.
  99. Shredded Wheat — This brand of whole wheat cereal is owned by Kraft; the trademark for Shredded Wheat was deemed generic in 1938.^
  100. X-ACTO Knife — This precision knife is now owned by the Elmer’s family of brands.

Honorable Mention Genericized Brands (funny how many of these are outdoor products!)

  • Broccolini — This cross between broccoli and kai-lan is a trademark of Mann Packing Company.
  • California Stir Fry — This bag of vegetables is a trademark of Mann Packing Company.
  • Camelbak — This hydration system brand is owned by Camelbak Products.
  • ChuckIt — This wand that picks up tennis balls and let’s dog owners easily “chuck” the ball, is a trademark of Canine Hardware of Seattle.
  • Coleman Stove (a subsidiary of Jarden Corp.)
  • Duraflame (independent company)
  • Good House Keeping Seal Of Approval  – Hearst’s Good Housekeeping Magazine’s seal of approval has become synonymous with a rating of quality.
  • Gu (the gooey stuff elite athletes consume…independent company called Gu Energy Labs)
  • Moleskin — This journal/notebook made famous by Ernest Hemingway is owned by Moleskin SpA, an Italian company.
  • Nalgene Bottle — These hard plastic bottles from Thermo Fisher Scientific are synonymous with water bottles.
  • Swiss Army Knife — Owned by Victorinox and Wenger) synonomous with a multi-purpose knife.
  • Therm-a-Rest (owned by Cascade Designs)
  • Weber Grill — This barebecue grill is majority-owned by BDT Capital, a privately-held U.S. merchant bank run by Byron Trott (who Warren Buffett once called the only banker he trusts).
  • Yelp — This brand by the co. of the same name has become synonymous with the verb “to search the Web locally.”
  • Zodiac — This inflatable boat from South Carolina-based Zodiac ZMP is bar far the most dominant brand in its category.

Companies Owning The Most Top 100 Colloquial Brands

  • S.C. Johnson & Sons (Windex, Saran Wrap, Drano, Zip-Loc)
  • Procter and Gamble (Nyquil, Head & Shoulders, Pepto Bismol, Swiffer)
  • Unilever (Popsicle, Vaseline, Q-Tips)
  • Johnson & Johnson (Band-Aid, Bengay)
  • Kraft (Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Shredded Wheat)
  • 3M (Post-It Note, Ace Bandage)
  • Wham-O (Frisbee, Hacky-sack)
  • Sony Corp. (Jumbotron, Walkman)
  • Elmer’s (Krazy Glue, X-Acto Knife)
  • Mann Packing Company (Broccolini and California Stir Fry)

Here are some older brands that were once more synonymous with their product categories:

  • AlkaSeltzer
  • Hungry Man Dinners
  • Pampers
  • Trojans
  • Wine Coolers
  • Hoover

Note: Companies try to avoid having overly genericized brands as they can lose their trademark protection if their brand becomes too dominant a term for the product category (this is called genericide).

The following resources assisted me in this article:

15 Comments

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    A friend pointed out that Yelp is a good colloquial/genericized brand Yelp — as it’s the dominant term used to describe doing a local search for a review of a retail business.

  • http://twitter.com/andrew_kingery andrew kingery

    What about X-ACTO knives?

  • http://www.robdkelly.com/about/ Rob Kelly

    Great one, Andrew. There is really no other type of knife that I’ve ever heard of that is quite like the scalpel-like X-Acto knife from Elmer’s Products.

    Let’s see what other brand candidates people suggest and we’ll consider putting X-Acto into the top 100 or perhaps growing it to a larger list!

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    X-ACTO Knives is a perfect example. Thanks, Andrew!

  • http://robdkelly.com/marketing/5-tips-on-how-to-name-your-brand/ 5 Tips On How To Create A Colloquial/Genericized Brand (like Kleenex) | Rob Kelly

    [...] I crafted The Top 100 Colloquial Brands, I came up with some observations about these brands that might be good tips for you to use to name [...]

  • http://robdkelly.com/marketing/the-best-examples-of-alliteration-in-businesses-brands/ Examples of Alliteration In Business, Music, Sports, Movies ‡ More | Rob Kelly

    [...] was intrigued when I noticed that at least 10 of the Top 100 Colloquial Brands list I posted included alliteration: brands like PowerPoint, RotoRooter, Google and Armor [...]

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    It’s amazing how many people on searching Google about the Ace Bandage trademark and who owns it. As mentioned above, Ace Bandage is currently owned by 3M.

  • Anonymous

    We know that there are thousands of different products. It is a nice list of top 100 Colloquial brands. Thanks for sharing with us.
     
    Tablepad

  • Clyde67

    How about Google????

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    Good suggestion, Clyde. Google is a super-generic brand…the are now #63!

  • Barry

    Gasoline was also never trademarked and became the generic.

  • Sue

    FYI – Swiss Army for knives is jointly owned by Victorinox and Wenger, the two Swiss companies authorized to make multi-function pocket knives for the Swiss Army. 

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    Thank you for the correction, Sue. I have made the change.

  • http://robdkelly.com/blog/uncategorized/a-long-list-of-words-in-our-brains-that-brands-own/ A Long List Of Words In Our Brains That Brands Own | Rob Kelly

    [...] brain).Note: Many of these brands (like Band-Aid, Kleenex and Google) are also on my list of “The Top 100 Genericized Brands”).Brands That Own Key Words In My BrainInternet & Software“E-commerce” is owned by [...]

  • http://blogs.ubc.ca/laramarie/2012/10/03/the-name-of-the-game-can-a-brand-become-too-recognizable/ The Name of the Game: Can a Brand Become Too Recognizable? | Lara Hon's Comm 101 Blog

    [...] …and many more [...]