The Ultimate List of Eponyms Examples: Brands that OWN the Market

August 16, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

There are so many products where the name of it is what the market calls it. You know like when you say I want a Kleenex. You actually want a Tissue but Kimberly-Clark did a great job getting us to call it Kleenex instead. Here’s a list of eponyms and examples of eponyms.

kleenex box
This list is incomplete. I want all of us to add to it. Leave comments and I will update.

  1. Band-Aid : Bandage : Owned by Johnson & Johnson
  2. Coke : Delicious soda : Owned by Coca-Cola
  3. Escalator : Escalator : Owned by Otis Corporation
  4. FedEx : Overnight Mail : Owned by FedEx
  5. Google : Search : Owned by Google
  6. Jeep : Truck : Owned by Chrysler
  7. Jell-o : Gelatin : Owned by Kraft Foods
  8. Kleenex : Tissues : Owned by Kimberly-Clark
  9. Lazyboy : Recliner : Owned by La-z-boy
  10. Legos : Plastic blocks : Owned by Lego Group
  11. Netflix : DVDs by Mail : Owned by Netflix
  12. Polaroid : Instant Photos: Owned by Polaroid
  13. Post-it Notes : Sticky Paper : Owned by 3M
  14. Q-Tip : Cotton Swab : Owned by Kimberly-Clark
  15. Rollerblade : Roller skates : Owned by Rollerblade
  16. Rolodex : Contact Organizer : Owned by Eldon
  17. Saltines : Crackers : Owned by Nabisco
  18. Scotch Tape : Tape : Owned by 3M
  19. Sharpie : Marker : Owned by Sanford
  20. Taser : Electronic Shock Device : Owned by Taser
  21. Tivo : Digital Recorder : Owned by Tivo
  22. The Club : Anti-Theft Device : Owned by Winner
  23. Tobasco : Hot Sauce : Owned by Heinz
  24. Tylenol : Headaches / Acetaminophen : Owned by Johnson & Johnson
  25. Walkman : Tape Player : Owned by Sony
  26. Windex : Window Cleaner : SC Johnson
  27. Vaseline : Petroleum Jelly : Owned by Chesebrough-Pond’s
  28. Xerox : Copies : Owned by Xerox

Eponym and Brand Family

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52 responses to “The Ultimate List of Eponyms Examples: Brands that OWN the Market

  1. Sri Reply

    I learned in Marketing (if memory serves me right) that this is not a good thing. The brand has lost its identity….because when someone says “buy me kleenex”….it does not really mean the brand Kleenex tissue paper! You get my drift? As you said, it can mean any tissue paper.

  2. Sri Reply

    Here is another example:
    Person 1: Can you buy me some pampers?
    Person 2: Sure, what brand?

    Person 1: Can you get me Luvs?
    Person 2: Luvs diapers? Sure!

    Having said above, let me add on to the list:

    1) Colgate = toothpaste
    2) Pampers = diapers
    3) Tylenol = headache medicine
    4)

  3. Devin Reply

    Some of these are extreme stretches… heh, who says “I need some heinz on my fries”? If you do I want to know!

    Where‘d you get your idea for a post about names, buddy? 😉

  4. qw Reply

    Q-Tip – Cotton Swab
    Band-Aid – Bandage

    Maybe its a regional thing but in my area (Minnesota) I don’t know anyone who refers to a truck as a Jeep unless its a Jeep. Nobody calls a Chevy Blazer or a Ford pickup a Jeep.

  5. Nedra Weinreich Reply

    I think that having your brand become a generic word would only be a good thing. I’ve had a hard time understanding why Google would sue to keep its name from becoming the generic term for internet search engines. People don’t have to pay more to get the “name brand” and if the word is at the top of their mind when they are about to do a search, they would likely plug in “google.com.” I doubt someone would use the term to say “I googled him on Yahoo.”

    And I’ll add “Scotch tape” to the list. I just found out from my British sister-in-law that they call that “cello tape” in England.

  6. Sri Reply

    Imagine if IPOD became the generic label for mp3 players? Wouldnt that be horrible?

    Person 1: What brand is your Ipod?
    Person 2: Samsung

  7. Devin Reply

    That’s exactly why they’re suing other MP3 player manufacturers with the term ‘Pod’ in the name. It detracts from the value of their brand. 😉

  8. hollyster Reply

    Forgot the most important one:

    Coke – Cocoa Cola

    In fact I heard in places where they sell Pepsi, if someone asks for a Coke the workers need to say, we have Pepsi not Coke.

    I actually think that when your brand becomes lost with the name of the product itself is not a good thing. No one knows you are brand and that you have a position, and like Sri says wouldnt’ it be horrible if your ipod was made by some other manufacturer with more than likely is worse quality than yours.

  9. noah kagan Reply

    i guess the technical word is eponyms. i think i may have confused people. yes starbucks is what people think of for coffee but i am thinking of the words people use for the market. no one says at peets coffee please give me a starbucks. but when you go to the store you ask for bandaids.

    great link mike. there are many more words i feel that website is missing. was hoping we could try to tackle the problem collaboratively.

    i agree with nedra and feel that having your brand name be the term is only a good thing. you are the market & you own the mindshare.

  10. Sean Tierney Reply

    Sharpie – permanent marker
    ACE bandage – elastic bandage
    coke – cola beverage
    jumpbox – hardware appliance platform for software applications
    lazyboy – recliner chair
    tivo – digital video recorder
    J-John – portable toilet
    Club – physical device for car theft protection
    Taser – electric shock personal protection device

  11. Nedra Weinreich Reply

    Thanks for backing me up, Noah. 🙂

    I’ve never heard of a J-John and here in L.A. it’s generically called a Portapotty. It’s probably a regional thing, depending on who the main company in your area is.

  12. Jonathan Shaw Reply

    It seems that part of the criteria for this is when a brand name is used as a verb. I’ve heard “Netflix” used a verb numerous times, e.g. “I’ll make sure and netflix that film.”

    So, my addition:

    netflix – online dvd rental

  13. Cap Reply

    Rollerblade.

    Gotta disagree here guys, having your brand name becoming a household name, like the many we’ve listed so far… can’t always be a good thing.

    It’s a real marketing dilemma. on the one hand you want to the name to spread to the point where it becomes the household norm.. but on another hand, you want it to still represent only your product. You should want to protect your trademark so it won’t lose its trademark status, like elevator or escalators.

    the last thing Google would want is to loose the name Google. Sure Google can mean search, but there’s way too much capital behind that name for them to not protect it insanely.

    ISO is another example… it would be of the norm in the industry to use the word ISO to represent a standard of quality etc… but ISO is also careful about the usage of the word and its name.. they wouldn’t want to dilute their brand.. where everyone can just tack on the word ISO.

    anyway, there’s more to it but I don’t remember what I learned 😛

    just thought of another:

    Chap stick. That one, I believe, is in danger of becoming a household name.

  14. Sérgio Rebelo Reply

    Most of them are regional. Some of the brands you talk about don’t even exist in Portugal or exist with a very low profile.
    In some markets:
    Evian
    Tetra Pak
    Ã?gua das Pedras (portuguese water)
    Bic

  15. Nedra Weinreich Reply

    I’m spending entirely too much brain power on this, but they keep coming to me.

    Walkman
    Windex
    Saltines
    Fedex
    Polaroid
    Rolodex
    Baggies

    This definitely varies by country as Sergio notes. For example, in Israel, Nescafe is the generic term for instant coffee, while I don’t think most people in the US even think of that brand anymore.

  16. Sri Reply

    Here is another: (in the year 2015)

    Noah = Blog

    Example of use:
    I need to go home and update my Noah.

    nah..doesnt sound rite. Sorry Noah.

  17. Nick Reply

    Noah,

    I think the most incredible brand co-opted into the venacular would have to be “Zipper” it origniated as an individual brand, and we don’t even have a description for what the product is, it has become the description.

    As a counterexample for why having you brand as the name of the object is a bad thing, figure the following: If your brand name becomes a synonym for the actual product, it is not protectable. Once it is simply a description of the product, not the brand of product you have lost control of the usage of the name, hence your protection wanes and others can describe the product as your brand name, pretty much screwing you sideways.

  18. trees420 Reply

    this might not be super common in everyday use, but it’s HUGE in the business and finance world.. but have you ever heard these while buying a car?

    we just need to run a TRW on you

    or

    your equifax came up clean

    i have heard both being used to describe credit reports

  19. jc Reply

    actually when i say “let’s go get starbucks”, i really mean starbucks. i don’t think starbucks have completely lost its brand. People are still picky about their coffee so most mean starbucks coffee when they say starbucks.

  20. Nathan Waters Reply

    Here is Australia another one is Panadol (i.e. paracetamol or what Americans call aspirin). We tend to say I need a Panadol which basically refers to any standard pain relief pill, but also happens to be a brand.

  21. Jason Reply

    Becoming top of mind is a marketer’s dream but can quickly turn to a nightmare if the brand name becomes too generic and loses trademark status.

    Initially, it’s tremendous to be so dominant that the name is almost a generic term. For example, alot of people probably couldn’t tell you another brand name for an Mp3 player so they are only going to look at IPod. IPod is smart for protecting the name though. It’s alot like playing king of the hill – once you reach the top, you have to protect it.

  22. Brian Garbet Reply

    Its been years since it was suggested by iPod still hasn’t been added to that list. Its definitely been branded & now common lingo.

    iPod : MP3 player: owned by Apple

  23. Portable DVD Player Reply

    Noah,

    I think the most incredible brand co-opted into the venacular would have to be “Zipper” it origniated as an individual brand, and we don’t even have a description for what the product is, it has become the description.

    As a counterexample for why having you brand as the name of the object is a bad thing, figure the following: If your brand name becomes a synonym for the actual product, it is not protectable. Once it is simply a description of the product, not the brand of product you have lost control of the usage of the name, hence your protection wanes and others can describe the product as your brand name, pretty much screwing you sideways.

  24. Tom Bavington Reply

    Dude, don’t leave out readers from across the pond; Hoover: Vacuum Cleaner: Invented by W.H. Hoover

  25. Chad Rogez Reply

    Not sure who the manufacturer was but the refrigerator was referred to as the “Ice Box” prior to hydrochlorofluorocarbons for many years.

    This article is a great “Marketing 101” reference thanks!