Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Too Much Brand Awareness

with 2 comments

There are a small number of brands where the brand name has become synonymous with its category. Kleenex is one of the best examples. If someone asks for a Kleenex, everyone knows they are asking for a tissue. Hoover is another good example in the UK.

Brand awareness this high is often seen as the pinnacle for marketers. But in many cases, it is not all it is cracked up to be. When I ask for a Kleenex, I don’t actually care which brand of tissue you hand me. Similarly, when grocery shopping, it may say Kleenex on my shopping list, but in reality I’ll buy whichever brand is on sale.

Why has this happened?

In this instance,  the brand name is so deeply associated with the category that it loses it’s meaning as a commercial brand. For many consumers the word Kleenex isn’t a brand, it’s a type of product, like a car or laundry detergent.

The Kleenex brand name is so pervasive in the category that it has lost its commercial meaning for most shoppers.

Find the Sweet Spot

The challenge for brand professionals is to reach the sweet spot where your brand has high awareness but maintains its association with the commercial brand that your company is selling. For example, Googling something means to search for it online, but it is still specific to the Google company. No one is going to Google anything on

What do you think? What other brands are in the sweet spot? What other brands are so pervasive that they lose their commercial value?


Written by benwisebranding

April 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Something somewhat similar is when brands lend their names to sponsorships. For example, the Air Canada Center, which has come to be better known as the “ACC”. I don’t think that investment is paying off for the brand anymore. How many times do you think of the Air Canada brand when you go to the ACC???


    April 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  2. Good point Carla. Probably the same in Toronto with the Rogers Centre (I’d bet a lot of people still call it the Skydome). Although the ACC is covered with the Air Canada logo so they probably get some recognition and awareness from that.


    April 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

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