11 Brands that Changed America’s Lexicon

Hal Conick
Marketing News
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Key Takeaways
​What? Some brands have gone beyond brand names and become common language. 

So what? Brand names, such as Frisbee, Band-Aid and Dumpster have become the go-to word for the objects they represent. 

Now what? You can reap rewards and category ownership if you successfully turn your brand into a default name for your product, which clever marketing can activate. 
​June 30, 2016

Because saying “flying disc” and “adhesive bandage” just isn’t as fun.

Some brands become timeless. Some brands become talked about. Other brands? They transcend time and language entirely.

Over time, certain brand names have become so synonymous with the product they represent that people use them as the go-to word for said product. Others create their own new word entirely or a common slang term. 

Here are 11 brands that have become so synonymous with their products that the brand name comes right to the tip of the tongue, whether you know it or not.

1. Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Young adults across the U.S. learn how to make their first meals with slow cookers. More often than slow cooker, you’ll hear “Are you putting that in the Crock Pot?” 

As of 2013, Consumer Reports says 83% of families own slow cookers. How many are Crock Pots? The shift in the English lexicon likely makes that purchase decision a lot easier when it comes time to buy.

2. The Flying Disc or Frisbee?

Does anyone call it a flying disc? Since the first professional Frisbee, created by Wham-O, went on sale in 1964, probably not. Even sports that use product, such as Frisbee (or disc) golf and ultimate Frisbee, use the brand name.

3. Adhesive Bandage or Band-Aid?

“Adhesive bandage” just doesn’t have the same panache as Band-Aid. The term (and product) was invented in 1920 by Johnson and Johnson and is likely one of the first things you’ll hear when someone has a cut, scrape or wound. 

4. Popsicle


The first ice pop was created in 1905 by an 11-year-old named Frank Epperson​, according to Country Living. Today, you’re likely to refer to these frozen treats by their brand name: Popsicle. 

Eighteen years later, Epperson introduced the “Epsicle,” which his children referred to as “Pop’s ‘sicle.” The rest, as they say, is history, and you aren’t likely to hear these frozen treats referred to as anything else until you step outside of the U.S. 


5. In-line Skates or Rollerblades?

“In-line skate” just doesn’t sound as cool as “Rollerblade,” a company (and term) founded in 1983 by Scott and Brennan Olson, according to About Money. Since then, the company has made many innovations in the skate-shoe, including an active brake and decreased weight.

6. Invisible Tape or Scotch Tape?

Scotch brand tape benefits from this: No one has the time to say “pressure-sensitive invisible tape.” 

A man named Richard Drew created Scotch Tape in 1925 at a company called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, according to Gizmodo. These days, we know the company as 3M; Scotch Tape’s name remains the same. 

7. Black Marker or Sharpie?

The marker industry was booming in 1964, according to Sharpie, the “first pen-style permanent marker.” The company took advantage. 

These days, you won’t hear autograph-seekers​ pass a celebrity a marker, you’ll hear them pass a Sharpie. 

Sharpie’s website says its popularization comes, at least in part, from celebrity endorsements from Johnny Carson and Jack Parr.

8. Soda Pop or Coke?

Everyone knows the Coca-Cola brand. One of the first major carbonated soft drink companies in the U.S. (which was, like Moxie, originally intended as medicine) has been everywhere since 1886. 

But if you’re in the southern U.S., every soda is a Coke, whether it’s made by Coca-Cola or not. Even a root beer or an orange pop is a Coke in many parts of the South. TastyResearch.com attributes this to the location of a Coca-Cola plant in Georgia

9. Dumpster

If you’ve ever heard anyone say “mobile garbage bin,” please tell us immediately, as it would be a wild anomaly worth reporting. Usually, people stick with the genericized trademark term “Dumpster,” which was patented by a company known as the Dempster Brothers, George Roby, Thomas and John, in 1935. 

10. Velcro 

The word “Velcro” has a bit of zip to it. The phrase “mechanical-based fastening product” does not. Thus, branding won the day here, helping the privately held Velcro company thrive for the past 75 years. 

The brand name was created in the 1940s and trademarked in 1958 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, according to HookandLoop. The French words for velvet (“velour”) and hook (“crochet”) were combined; thus, Velcro. 

11. Energy/Pep or Moxie?

Classic Moxie advertisement from their website

“Ya got moxie, kid,” may sound like something out of a Jimmy Durante movie, but before it was a popular slang term for energy and pep, it was the brand name of one of the first mass-produced sodas in the U.S. In 1885, Moxie Nerve Food was patented and given “wide curative claims,” according to the company.



Author Bio:

Hal Conick
Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.
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