To Google or not to Google – That’s the question!

Apparently Google doesn’t like it when people use the verb ‘to google’ to refer to the action of looking this up using a search engine. According to an article, by thenextweb, Google isn’t the only brand having issues with people using their brand name to refer to more general but similar actions. Adobe does not want people to use the word ‘photoshopped’. This is what the article says:

Behold, Adobe’s primer on the “proper use of the Photoshop trademark”:

Always capitalize and use trademarks in their correct form.

Correct: The image was enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.
Incorrect: The image was photoshopped.
Incorrect: The image was Photoshopped.
Incorrect: The image was Adobe® Photoshopped.

So, you can’t just say: I photoshopped my pictures, no you have to use the brand name fully and refer to the fact that it’s a type of software.

Google has similar issues:

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device that identifies a particular company’s products or services. Google is a trademark identifying Google Inc. and our search technology and services. While we’re pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let’s face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we’d like to make clear that you should please only use “Google” when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services.

In other words: thank you for using our name so much and giving us free exposure, but please refrain from using our brand name when NOT using our service. I don’t know, but doesn’t that sound like a bad marketing strategy? Isn’t the one thing ANY marketing strategy tries to achieve the fact that people will talk about your product? Making it a household name? Just like why you ask for a Coke, or a Cola it pretty much automatically infers the Coca Cola brand?

I guess that what these brands are afraid of is that the words will become such commonalities that people will stop understanding that Google and Photoshop are brands that provide a certain service that is different from their competitors. From that point of view you cannot blame them for having such issues. Nevertheless, I do think there is an obvious reason for why people picked Google and Photoshop to become verbs that indicate the actions of using a search engine or image enhancing. For some reason, I altavista’ed it or I paintshoppro’ed it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

I think that they should be proud that so many people have picked up THEIR brand names and not others. It is the kind of marketing most companies can only dream of. It’s exposure, it’s word-of-mouth and more importantly: it’s free of charge.

Q: What brand names do you think would make good verbs?

4 responses to “To Google or not to Google – That’s the question!”

  1. To xerox is a famous one, but in Dutch there’s also (although outdated) ‘frigidaire’ for fridge. Which, in English, looks logical, but ‘Frigidaire’ once was a brand, not a piece of kitchenapparatus. Or how about the word ‘rang’ for a sweet, which was countered by the maker of the product through the slogan ‘rang is alleen rang als er rang op staat. RANG!’ Quite corny if you ask me…
    What I meant to say is Google can try to stop the use of it’s name as a verb, but it’s a failed enterprise from the start. It has already nestled itself in the daily speech and tempering with that… Not a good idea. If you don’t know what I mean: think of Orwell’s 1984 en ‘Newspeak’.

    • Oh yeah Xerox is one too. But that is a bit outdated now too. And yeah my point is too that this things become embedded quicker than you might think, so the company may want to change this but every attempt will be futile!

  2. Oh btw a pupil of mine is researching the influence of social media on our language for her pws, mainly the influence of Twitter… Wasn’t that your subject or something likewise…?

    • I would want to research something similar, but I’d want to look at whether people really are more creative using language on Twitter because of the 140 character limit. Which would be a certain type of influence.

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