When I ask you to think of video game console you may ask, which one? As there are now several to choose from: Switch, Xbox, PlayStation. If I asked you what comes to mind when you think Nintendo, you may think Game Boy, Switch, Mario and the NES or many of the other licenses within the Nintendo company. This is all thanks to the hard work by the Nintendo company to avoid generification, the process of a brand name becoming so synonymous with an item that that it becomes the general name for an entire product or service over time. This usually happens when either, the product is the only one of its kind or when the thing created so popular it over shadows all other similar products.
In the 1990’s Nintendo began to experience trademark erosion when their name was being used to refer to any game console. Nintendo marketing released a poster (seen below) encouraging Nintendo users and retailers to stop referring to Nintendo as a noun. A happy Mario points out, “There’s no such thing a Nintendo.” Luckily their marketing efforts worked better than those of brands like Band-Aid, Kleenex, and Trampoline ever did.
Do your parents still call every console a Game Boy? Do they call Link Zelda? Let us know in the comments!