After Hoovering I Sneezed and Blew My Nose With a Kleenex

I am learning French at the moment and recently I sneezed during my lesson. I wanted to ask the teacher for a tissue and I did not know the French word for tissue so I asked her. She responded that the most common work used in France for a tissue is Kleenex. I was surprised by this but then I thought well this is just the same as Americans. They call tissues Kleenex just as they they call photocopiers Xerox Machines.

This got me thinking of how wonderful it must be for your company's brand to become so well known that it starts to replace the noun for an item and in many cases becomes a verb. Here are just a few more examples of what I mean:

  • A Hoover or To Hoover
  • To Google
  • To Photoshop
  • Cellophane
  • Sellotape
  • Biro

And the list goes on. It would be great to think that one could have a company whose name eventually becomes a verb. It is so attractive that the firm Argos use the phrase "don't buy it, Argos it". Presumably this is in the vane hope that their brand becomes a verb in everyday use but I haven't noticed that happening yet.

Some of the brands are so embedded in our daily lives it is not so surprising that they cease to become brands and start to become the words for the very things they represent. However, there is a more sinister side to this:

Don't Use Photoshop

Photoshop to me is an extreme example as to how well this works. To photoshop something is a verb that has really taken off in recent years and I am sure it has seriously increased the sales of that software. However, I am convinced that for the majority of purchasers it is simply not the correct software to use.

For a start, it is very expensive. That's fine because it is an extremely capable and versatile piece of software. However, unless you are a professional photographer or a magazine editor, you would probably only use 1% of photoshop's capabilities and so would probably have wasted your money. The much cheaper Paint Shop Pro or the free GIMP software packages offer far more than most of us would need but for a much lower (or no) cost.

Hollywood Movie Influence

Have you noticed that most people in Hollywood movies use Mac computers? Macs look great but cost a lot. Sure, they are vastly superior that PCs when it comes to graphic design and video editing but for most of us, the extra cost is simply not justified.

I have also noticed that they like to drop in brand names at every chance in modern films and I am sure that some of these will result in those names being used more often by us and there is a chance they could also become new nouns and verbs. This is a very subtle but sinister type of marketing I think we should all be on our guard against.

So next time you buy something, just stop and check you are not being overly-influenced by common word usage.

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