When A Popular Product Stands for Everything Just Like It

The manager who hands files to an assistant and says “Xerox these” rarely means “Go find the nearest Xerox-brand machine, and make copies.” He or she really means “Go make copies on whatever’s out there. And collate!” 

When A Popular Product Stands for Everything Just Like It

A brand or product has made its mark on society when its name becomes the catch-all for other products or uses in the same category. Xerox is a brand, but it also represents copiers, generally, and is the verb for making copies, even if not on a real Xerox copier.

I can’t decide whether they should like other brands being called by their name, or if they should like being synonymous with “document production.”

Think of when you’ve used a specific product name when speaking generally: “Chapstick,” when you only meant “scented lip balm;” “Kleenex,” when you just wanted a “non-bathroom tissue;” or “FedEx,” when you meant “to send via snail mail, but not the Post Office, because I hate waiting in line at lunch time on a Tuesday.”

Photoshopped, Or Digitally Manipulated?

And since the advent of digital photography, we say “photoshopped” when speaking of any digitally-altered photo,  whether the editor actually used the official application called “Adobe Photoshop,” or another that does the same thing.

An original picture of Jimmy Fallon and me.

The same picture, photoshopped--except, I didn't use Photoshop.

What’s Next?

“Oh, hey. I just tweeted you.”
“But I don’t have Twitter.”
“You know what I mean. I sent you an electronic message of about 140 characters to tell you something random and inconsequential, rather than use my phone to call you and leave a message… because that’s silly.”



4 responses

  1. I once said to a coworker, “I will monitor you.” What I really meant was, “I will hit you with a monitor. In the face.”

    I should have used a popular monitor brand. But my company doesn’t use popular brands. Shame.

    1. Which brand would you have used? Probably not an American one. Psh. I see how you are.

      1. “I will Samsung you” wouldn’t sound good.

      2. True. Samsung makes many things besides monitors, but your heart is in the right place.

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