We all love a generic term. Have you ever heard of anyone who’s going to Dyson the stair carpets or who’s been Electroluxing all day and feeling whacked-out? Didn’t think so. We “Hoover” don’t we…and everybody knows what we mean – or do they?
When it comes to generic terms and the understanding of what it really means, Hoover is an outright winner. We know it means vacuuming or using a vacuum cleaner but how well would you know whether other terms in common usage were really brands in disguise?
Try this test
I know that a Zippo lighter is probably a brand name but I didn’t know that escalator once was. Here are some more commonly used generic terms. See if you can spot the one red herring.
Jet Ski – a personal water craft and also a Kawasaki brand name.
Bubble Wrap – would you believe a TradeMark belonging to the Sealed Air Corporation?
Onsies have become very popular in the last couple of years – but you guessed it a TradeMark of… Gerber Childrenswear.
Jacuzzi – is a company.
Breathalyzer is owned by the Indiana University Foundation.
Chapstick is a brand name of lip balm produced by Pfizer.
Kleenex is a brand; as is Band Aid.
Would you believe that Ping Pong was trademarked in 1901?
The Q of Q-tips stands for quality according to Unilever – the brand owner.
Shall I go on? Sellotape, Tupperware, Velcro, Tippex, Post-It Notes. What about Styrofoam or Formica? Hells Bells, even Frisbee and Hula Hoop.
Windbreakers (the jackets not flatulence), Stetsons and Y-Fronts conclude the list…well almost.
How about Building Regulation Compliance Certificates?
A red herring or two
I said there’d be one red herring. And it’s Y-Fronts. That’s pants you might think but no…the Jockey company first introduced Y-fonts but never TradeMarked them so anyone can use the term.
A second red herring is of course is Building Regulation Compliance Certificates. Why? Well that is the correct name for what installers are supposed to provide to their customers once they’ve completed a job (via their competent person scheme provider of course).
Unfortunately, too many installers have come to refer to Building Regulation Compliance Certificates as “FENSA Certificates”. This is because they know what they mean… but sadly too many installers are effectively confusing their customers because the customer does not know what they mean. And yet it is incredibly important that customers understand that this is a really serious document – they will have problems selling their house if they don’t have one. It is important that installers use the correct terminology so that customers ‘get the gravitas’. And remember, if your competitor uses the term correctly and explains exactly what it means but you don’t…who do you think will be winning the quality business?
The Certass view
Gemma Swanke, Certass’ Sales Manager says: “When people call Certass and ask if we do FENSA Certificates we explain to them that we can’t!
Like all good competent person scheme operators, we explain that we can produce a Building Regulation Compliance Certificate, so long as they are using the services of a Certass accredited installer.
We get enough calls on this subject to raise an eyebrow or two but I think it is the level of questions that follow that raises the concern homeowners are clearly not being informed properly.” (In the next month or so, The Installer will run a Certass Column focusing on the most common questions asked by the public.)
Gemma continues: “As the government place new rules on all competent person schemes to make the industry more transparent, the understanding that the Building Regulation Compliance Certificate is THE term that must be referenced will come into the spotlight.
We will be pushing our members to use the term correctly in all their business dealings and will be running a campaign to ensure that the whole industry observes what we consider to be professional behaviour.”