Internet Brands as Verbs

April 3rd, 2007 | Categories: networks, off topic, social media, trends

You know your Internet brand has made it big when:

  • Your user base is in the millions.
  • Revenue (and profits) are not only present, but also quite large.
  • Your company brand name becomes a household VERB.

Who are some companies that have managed to pull off this feat:

  • Google logoGoogle (i.e. Why don’t you just google “doggy raincoats” to find the nearest dealer?)
  • Digg (i.e. I just dugg that article on gorilla mating habits.)
  • Skype (i.e. I’ll skype you after I get back from my yoga class.)

Honourable mention goes out to:

  • Twitter (i.e. I am going to twitter that thought.)
  • MSN (i.e. Just MSN me later when you get home from your banjo lesson.)

As an avid Internet user, I use these terms/brands synonymously. But every once in awhile, I come across someone who doesn’t understand what I am talking about. They are unaware of the brand. This is usually a striking moment for me - perhaps a wake-up call - as I consider these terms as part of my daily lingo.

Though naive and assuming, the ability to incorporate these ‘branded verbs’ into our dialect goes a long way in terms of increased productivity and effectiveness. No further explanations are needed. For example, a large percentage of Internet users use Google or know of the brand. So, to save time and hassle, we say, “Why don’t you google this?” rather than, “Why don’t you go to, type in ‘Asian singing snake’, and hit enter?”.

Likewise, I can tell someone to ‘skype me’, rather than log on to Skype and start a voice conversation.

These Internet-branded speech shortcuts are not likely to be a fad. My guess is that they will continue to pop up as the Internet produces more household names and services. Another thing to keep in mind is that some Internet brands will never become a verb - either because their name is too long, has too many syllables, or is just plain hard to pronounce, OR because they are not known for one specific function or use (i.e. portals).

Interestingly enough, once a brand reaches this ultimate platform of fame, it tries to protect against it. When brands become verbs, most companies try to protect their valuable trademark and brand equity. Allowing your trademarked name to be used as a word not only erodes brand value, but also corporate credibility. This pitfall has occurred to many offline brands over the years including Xerox, Rollerblade, Kleenex, and Band-Aid.  

Essentially, when your brand goes mainstream, people will speak casually about your company. Protective measures must be taken. An eroding brand may be right around the corner. There is a very fine line.

Please be sure to mention any other Internet companies that I may have missed (and I know there are some out there.)


  1. jules Says:

    Outstanding article. Already we are pinging people, and IM’ing each other. The other night at dinner, I discovered friends in real life who were on Facebook, and we aggreed to “facebook” each other.
    Now that’s still pushing it…. but you are bang on with the other verbs.
    Twittr is going to be another verb (if it’s not already).


  2. When your brand is good enough to be a verb, coming to news media « Christopher Wink Says:

    […] Of course, that has clearly followed online. […]

  3. Andrew Johns Says:

    I thought the verb for “twittering” is to tweet? I’ve been tweeting all day. But then the actual end product is a tweet as well, so you’ll have tweeted a tweet?

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