OPINION: The urge to verb up

When I grow up, I want to be a verb.

When Microsoft Corp. recently launched the most recent evolution of its Web search project, the name drew mixed reviews. “Bing” was an odd choice. (One blogger wondered why Microsoft had named its search engine after the most passive-aggressive character on the sitcom Friends.)

One of the prominent rationales for the choice, according to Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer, was the name’s potential to “verb up.”

The trend toward brands becoming verbs is a recent one, and it’s been largely confined to the search space. In fact, it’s pretty much become a necessity for any kind of market share in search. Have you ever AltaVista’d anything? Of course not. You Googled it. And that’s why Google is king and for most of us AltaVista is a vague memory.

Do you Yahoo? Sure you do. (Read that one aloud; it’s fun.)

Will you be Binging something in the near future? Time will tell.

This is a break with branding tradition. In the old days, once a year, every newsroom would receive a letter on behalf of the legal department of some company whose product risked becoming a generic: “When referencing in print, remember that Kleenex

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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