A Guide to Brand Genericization and Market Segmentation

Coca Cola is breaking into just about every market segment of the beverage industry we can think of: water, coffee, frozen coffee, energy drinks, alcoholic drinks and now mixers – jokes on you Coke, we’ve been mixing your soda with alcohol for years now. Does that make us ahead of the curve?

In all seriousness, their newest product launch is an interesting take on what has been a staple in bars across the world since 1902.

Beginning in Cuba with the Cuba Libre, (otherwise known as a rum and coke) Coke has successfully been pairing its brand with alcohol in a meaningful way for decades. Here in the states, the “Jack and Coke” has long been the drink of choice for casual whiskey drinkers/soda lovers.

The question is, why not Jack and Soda? Or Pepsi? Bourbon and RC? For starters, none of those roll off the tongue quite as well. The real reason, though? Just good branding.

bacardi and coke

In bars across the country, Coca Cola replaced the industry term ‘soda’ with their brand name to exceptional effect, but they’re not the only one that’s pulled off the old switcheroo –

Band-Aid replaced bandage. Photocopiers are just Xerox machines. And no one in their right mind would ask for a tissue- it’s Kleenex, period, end of sentence.

While having such a recognizable brand name is the epitome of marketing, brands have to protect that brand from overreach and … pause for dramatic effect … genericization.

Genericization is what happens when a brand name becomes so commonplace it loses its legal protection during the trademark re-registration process. You’ve probably heard of a few products that have fell victim to this process before – escalator, dumpster, aspirin, so on, so forth.


Brands looking to protect their trademarks should do a few things, beginning with establishing brand guidelines. Those can be as simple as establishing how to use your brand’s name to creating distinct, predictable rules on logo usage, trademarked colors and positioning. If you’re looking for some help, we’ve heard of a great place that can do just that: *AHEM.*

While Coca Cola has been slowly replacing the word ‘soda’ in the public consciousness, it’s move into different segments of the beverage market isn’t just for profit – it also expands the meaning and value of the Coke name, protecting it’s brand name from hypothetical legal challenges to it’s trademark.

And it is hypothetical. The Coca Cola brand is strong enough to win any legal battle over it’s trademark. For a company without Coca Cola’s power, though, diversifying a product line under a single brand name is at least a basis for a legal argument against genericization.

The name Coca Cola, for example, couldn’t be layman’s term for soda if it also describes coffee, energy drinks and water.

And until we know how successful these new product are, we’ll be sitting back and sipping our bourbon and Cokes, just waiting for their new mixer product lines to be released here in the states.

Want to read more about the biggest brands around the country? Check out more from Western Kentucky’s favorite marketing team here!

Article Written By:

Connor Jaschen

Content Strategist/Writes Raps at His Desk When He Thinks No One is Watching