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