How we have generalised Brand names for products & have no idea about it!

How we have generalised Brand names for products & have no idea about it!

Posted by Nikita Zankar
13 October 2017 | Blog

India, the land of a billion people is a huge market for competing brands and products from all over the world. Yet, there have been some brands which have made a mark on the masses such that their names have become synonymous with the product they sell. In fact, the influence of their marketing is such that people have forgotten that these are actually the names of the brands and have generalized the terms.

Like, for example, a Xerox machine. Xerox Corporation is an American company that manufactures and sells a range of photocopiers, printers, digital production printing presses etc. But when Xerox came into the market, there weren’t enough photocopy shops; it gradually picked up. And so in India, to photocopy means to Xerox. Period.

Today, there are several companies that manufacture photocopy machines, such as Canon and HP, but the popularity of the Xerox brand is such that documents are mostly ‘Xeroxed’, not photocopied. Even the shopkeepers display a yellow board having bold black letters of the word XEROX written on it and everyone knows where to go!

Many such brands have made a permanent mark in the minds of people. These brands achieved this status because they were the early entrants in the particular product category. If you built a category, advertised enough and captured a large market share, you build that kind of a brand name in the minds of the consumer. It also depends on how much impact they have on the emotions of people. These brands have built a trust amongst the consumers.

Let’s take a look at some brands and how their brand name became a generalized tag for that specific category of products.

SELLOTAPE (for all kinds of Adhesive tapes)


Sellotape is a British brand of transparent, cellulose-based, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape, and is the leading brand in the United Kingdom. Sellotape is generally used for joining, sealing, attaching and mending. The term has become a generalised trademark in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Israel, India, Serbia, Japan, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and is used much in the same way that Scotch Tape came to be used in Canada and the United States, in referring to any brand of clear adhesive tape.

DETTOL (for all brands of liquid antiseptic)


There is perhaps no liquid antiseptic in India as popular as Dettol, a brand owned by UK-based Reckitt Benckiser, who also owns brands like Durex and Harpic. While there are other popular brands, such as Savlon, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, Dettol is what you will most likely be handed when asked for an antiseptic.

COLGATE (how toothpaste is generally referred as!)


Colgate has been synonymous with toothpaste for several years. William Colgate and Company was set up in 1806 by William Colgate, a soap maker. The company was bought by Palmolive-Peet in 1938, which led to the formation of Colgate-Palmolive-Peet. The word Peet was later dropped from the name. Colgate-Palmolive markets a wide range of products, the most popular among them being the Colgate brand of toothpaste and Palmolive line of soaps and personal care products. But, no matter where you are in India, Colgate is what you will hear early in the morning, when someone is looking for toothpaste to brush their teeth, in spite of what brand is in their hand.

THERMOS – (the bottle to keep tea or water warm)


A Thermos, or rather a vacuum flask, was invented by Scottish physicist and chemist Sir James Dewar in 1892. The first vacuum flask for commercial use was made in 1904 by German company Thermos. Dewar had failed to register a patent for his invention, and the product was subsequently patented by the company. Today, the word is synonymous with vacuum flasks all over the world.  They will only understand what you mean if you say Thermos and not Vacuum Flask.

DALDA – (that is what we call Vanaspati ghee)


Think hydrogenated vegetable oil, think Dalda. The brand’s story in India begins in the early 1930s, when Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Co (today’s Hindustan Unilever Ltd) wanted to manufacture vansapati locally. At that time, the fat was imported in India by Dada, a Dutch company. Dada became Dalda after Hindustan Lever (the company became Hindustan Unilever in June 2007) introduced an ‘L’ in the name. Today, while there is no clear leader in the cooking oil category, Dalda and hydrogenated vegetable oil remain synonymous. Dalda is currently owned by Bunge Ltd.

BISLERI (the first “packaged drinking water”)


In the case of Bisleri, the taste played a very crucial role. People developed a taste which Bisleri provided whereas the packaged mineral water of Himalaya and Aquafina had a different taste which is still not liked by many.

Apart from these, there are many other brands who have achieved this level of popularity among the people. Maybe we can put up another list next time! Keep watching this space for more such fun advertising trivia.

About The Author

Nikita Zankar

Nikita is a content writer at Orca Studio. She believes that “writing is the closest you can come to creating magic”. When she isn’t typing voraciously on her keyboard, you can find her climbing mountains and wandering in the forests with her camera and a binocular.

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