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When your brand becomes a verb July 19, 2009

Posted by jeremyliew in branding, Consumer internet.

Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review writes about the power of the brand as a verb:

Perhaps nothing better illustrates how far behind Microsoft is in the search engine wars than a recent comment by the company’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, about why he liked the name Bing for Microsoft’s new competitor to Google.

The name, he told The New York Times, “works globally” and has the potential “to verb up.” That is, some day, Mr. Ballmer hopes, people will “bing” a new restaurant to find its address or “bing” a new job applicant for telling events in his past.

Notes the Times:

The leader among Internet brands turned verbs, of course, is Google. Imagine the glee in Microsoft headquarters if Google lost its trademark protection to genericide. If “google” becomes synonymous with conducting an Internet search, then Microsoft could legally and confusingly advertise by saying: “Use Bing for all of your most complicated googling!”

On the other hand, when your brand becomes a verb, you know you’ve reached mass market consumer recognition, usually a pretty good indicator for value creation. So far the internet brands that I can think of that are commonly used as verbs are Google, Skype, Facebook, Yelp and Twitter (tweet). What am I forgetting?

UPDATE: Digg was a good suggestion


1. hunter - July 19, 2009

not sure if we qualify as verb, but Jay-Z and Mariah Carey have both featured YouTube in song lyrics. That’s gotta count for something.

2. Ouriel Ohayon - July 20, 2009

Too bad PIng is not a web brand. The number of times someone tell me “i ll ping you soon”

3. faitswulff - July 20, 2009

I hesitate to say blog (Blogger). I’m not sure of the etymology of either the name or the term.

4. Greg Tseng - July 20, 2009

I’ll pay the dinner bill now but please PayPal me your share later.
How will you find that obscure t-shirt? I’ll just eBay it.
If you missed Adam Lambert on American Idol last night you gotta YouTube it.

5. Scott - July 22, 2009

Here’s a funny commercial on Googling with Bing:

To Ouriel’s poing, “Ping” is an online brand in the golf world — and a major player at that.

6. Christine - July 26, 2009

Here are some dated ones:

Mapquest your directions (now you Googlemaps it)
YIMing or I-M ing (Yahoo’s instant messaging now given way to texting)

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