15 Brand Names People Use as Generic Terms

Network of computers and touch screen smart devices connecting online: mobile apps, technology and connections

Lots of the common items we use every day, such as zippers and escalators, were once specifically brand names. It takes special brands to become so well-known that we use their names in conversations without even realizing – here are 15 brand names you might not know you’re using:

1. Crock Pot


Crock-Pot is a brand name for slow cookers, but we commonly refer to most slow cookers by their name.

2. Jacuzzi

Commonly used to refer to any bubbly hot tub or jet tub, Jacuzzi is a bathtub brand that also produces mattresses and toilets.

3. Seeing Eye Dog

The Seeing Eye, Inc.

This one surprised us! Technically they’re only Seeing Eye Dogs if the dogs were trained by Seeing Eye of Morristown, New Jersey. Otherwise they’re just guide dogs.

4. Q-Tips

Unilever owns the Q-Tip brand today, but the name is often used to describe any cotton swab stick.

5. Tupperware

We’re probably all guilty of this one – calling any food storage implements “Tupperware”. However, Tupperware is actually a specific brand that got its name from its creator, Earle Silas Tupper.

6. Band-Aid


Technically, unless it’s Band-Aid brand, most sticky bandages should just be called bandages. Band-Aid became a trademark of Johnson & Johnson in 1920 and has dominated the wound care market ever since, so it’s no big surprise that we all ask for a Band-Aid when there’s a cut or scrape.

7. Chapstick

Not all lip balms are Chapsticks! However, the name is so ubiquitous that we commonly use it to refer to almost any lip balm stick.

8. Frisbee

Over 300 million Frisbees have been sold since their introduction to the world, so now the word “Frisbee” is used to describe any flying disc, even when they’re not actually a Frisbee brand item.

9. Kleenex


The paper product brand is so commonplace in everyday life that many people refer to any facial tissue as a “Kleenex”.

10. Styrofoam


No matter how many water cooler drinks or gas station coffees you’ve had, you’ve never drunk out of a true Styrofoam cup. What we typically think of as “Styrofoam” is actually a material that’s called expanded polystyrene. The brand Styrofoam is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company that is made in sheaths for construction projects – never in the shape of a plate, cup, or cooler.

11. PowerPoint

Fun fact! Unless you made it in Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s actually just a presentation.

12. Dumpster

Here’s another unexpected one: Dumpster is a brand name, but the word has become so genericized that the trademark is not widely enforced.

13. Velcro

We might use the world “Velcro” for any hook and loop fastener that makes that satisfying “skrrrrip” sound when you pull it apart, but Velcro is indeed a brand name.

14. Fluffernutter

Everyone’s favorite peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich is actually a registered trademark of the makers of Marshmallow Fluff, Durkee-Mower Inc.

15. Koozie

BIC Graphic

The history of koozies began in the 1980s with a company called Radio Cap Corporation. Since then, the name “koozie” has taken over the vernacular, becoming a generic term that’s often used to refer to almost any beverage insulator. You can’t look around a barbecue without seeing one!

30 I like it
3 I don't like it

(Marketing Coordinator)

Caitlin is a Marketing Coordinator at SAGE. When she's not writing, she enjoys baking and spending time with her beagle puppy, Piper.

One Comment

  1. Not to mention Polo Shirts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *