It useful to give things names, ‘kettle’ is so much more convenient than ‘that thing you put water in, that makes the water boil when you switch it on’.
But occasionally a name becomes more than a way of identifying something; sometimes it takes on a life of its own.
For a people this can be something of a double edged sword, I doubt that either Heath Robinson or Fred Karno would be thrilled to know that their names have been forever connected with over complication and ineptitude. But when it comes to brands the story is very different.
There are a select few brands names that have not only become synonymous with their use but also successfully shed their capital letter and made the transition to dictionary term.
Originally named the ‘The Electric Suction Sweeper Company’, Hoover were not the first company to design or patent a vacuum cleaner – in fact they were almost 50 years behind the pioneers – but they were the first company to take their product into the mass market and engage with an audience that needed their product. Precisely when and why people stopped vacuuming with a Hoover and started hoovering is lost in the mists of time but the terminology persists. We all know it’s called a vacuum cleaner but we’ll refer to it as hoover, whatever brand it may be.
This phenomenon is also home to some notable companies that almost made the cut, Xerox was very close to replacing the word ‘copy’ in offices around the globe when the company themselves launched a campaign to stop this happening and, in light of where I’m going with this, I can’t think of a single reason why.
For the stationery obsessed among us (and I accept this could just be me) ‘post-it’ and ‘sharpie’ currently stand on the cusp of greatness. In my world things are mended with superglue, cut with a stanley knife and stuck with sellotape – yet all these things are still trademarks.
These products have not been randomly chosen through the fickleness of human nature for this elevated level of brand awareness. They’ve achieved this honour by following the simplest of rules, they’ve all successfully identified, communicated and addressed a need.
But whatever these companies have achieved there’s one that overshadows them, there’s a real giant in this category and that’s why we’re here – Google*.
Google is a company that stands out from the crowd in an area that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Their market leading search engine turns 16 next week, not old enough to drink, smoke, drive, or vote across most of the globe but already one of the most recognised brands around.
Like Hoover they weren’t the first but like all the others mentioned here, they were the company that identified a simple, accessible, solution that worked for their audience.
Google said ‘we know what you need and this is how we can make it happen’– The result? Google isn’t just a company we’ve heard of, or a resource we use, it’s a thing we do.
We’re sorry to say that we don’t have the secret to achieving this, if we did you might be spending this afternoon enjoying an ‘eyeful’ from a potential supplier (which is a double entendre too far for anyone). What we do have is the expertise to help you connect with your customers, clearly and engagingly and that’s where it all starts.