Something You Need To Know About Off-brand

The words “off-brand” have a wildly negative connotation in a lot of people’s minds. While off-brand only technically means “not a well-known brand,” it has become associated with “inferior.”

That’s one of the biggest problems that any company runs into.

Being associated as an “on-brand” (is that a real term? I’m going to pretend it is) is such a difficult, ephemeral thing to obtain or accomplish. If you remember Sears, you would remember them as the most on-brand brand of all brands known for quality and reliability. Yet today, Sears is used as a warning story of how you need to keep up with the times or die. Fry’s Electronics is another more localized but just as tragic story.

But the question I’m always wondering is how does something switch from “off-brand” to “on-brand?” How does it become the lexiconic definition or name of something?

Kleenex is probably the best example of this. No one really asks “hey, can you pass me a facial tissue?” They ask for a Kleenex. Kleenex literally owns the market on facial tissues where you’ll ask for that specifically over a “facial tissue.” The same goes for Legos (plastic building blocks), Saltines (crackers), and Google (web search).

Hilariously this also exists for Coke in the South of the United States, where people will ask for a “coke” instead of a soda or cola. A huge surprise to me, coming from the Pacific Northwest.

“I’ll have a Coke, please.”
“What flavor?”
Literal real conversation in the South

For many years, the name in webcams has been and still is Logitech. They are “the brand” in webcams, have the largest market share, and own the fact that when it comes to quality and name recognition, they are it. They are “on-brand,” and that’s what we want.

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