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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:

16 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 [...]

  • Anonymous

    Hi Rob Kelly your post is quite interesting. As Trademarks are the face of businesses and also a marketing tool, the world’s most famous brands select a brand name and a special trademark for their businesses. Registering a trademark enables the customer to differentiate the goods and services offered.

    A trademark identifies the source of goods and services, ensures the experience of consistent quality and provides an effective advertisement. As it is important to register a trademark for your business like that registering a trademark for your blog or any movie title is also
    important.

    Bu, as the adage goes, too much of anything is good for nothing. Trademark Genericide is when a brand name becomes too popular and people start using it very frequently for a product or a particular task — it becomes generic.

    For example, Xerox Corp. sells printers and photocopying. The brand has become so popular. People use to say – please Xerox these papers instead of saying please photocopy these papers.

    But prevention of trademark Genericide is very important for the company owners from the very beginning of their establishment of their business.

    Here’s a good site with more about it:
    http://blog.getmetrademark.com/