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The Moat Just Gets Widened When A Brand Becomes A Verb

Aug. 08, 2019 12:48 PM ETAAPL, ADBE, CLX, META, GOOG, GOOGL, GXC, MSFT, SPY, TCEHY, TCTZF, VZ44 Comments
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Urbem Capital


  • It could be an extremely rare case for a brand to "verb up."
  • However, such a rare case could signal a widening moat and a long runway of growth ahead at the business.
  • I list 4 successful businesses who own and benefit from their verbified brands/products.

Source: Wikipedia.


There is no greater recognition for a brand than getting "verbified." But getting there is by no means easy. Remember the search engine war between Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) (GOOGL)? When explaining why the name "Bing" to the New York Times in 2009, Steve Ballmer, the CEO then at Microsoft, told that it has the potential "to verb up." For example, in the future, people would "bing" a restaurant to find its address or "bing" a movie to find its trailers and reviews, hopefully!

Fast forward to today (after 10 years), we still Google but we do not Bing (at least not yet). Google's dominance in the search market seems just unshakable. As Peter Thiel said in 2014:

Consider the fact that the word Google is now an official entry in the Oxford English Dictionary - as a verb. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen to Bing."

Brand Verbification

When a brand becomes a verb, it translates directly to what the brand does, establish a role in our lives and become an extension of our memory.

A verbified brand also signals a scale advantage. You would need to have a lot of people commonly using the product or service to have it enter pop-culture. This means brands must achieve a critical mass of users before there's an opportunity to become a verb.

Moreover, as it is difficult for brands to become verbs, the few that do create immense brand equity, and hence, a substantial barrier to entry.

Google's verb status has been providing the business with a wide economic moat against competitors, including Bing which was not even close in terms of getting verbified after a 10-year effort.

Apparently, marketers tend to believe in the power of verbification as it demonstrates a personal connection

This article was written by

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Urbem Capital is the research arm of Urbem Partnership. Unlike most other equity research institutes, we purely focus on the rare species of wonderful businesses for the long run - that is less than 0.1% of all public companies worldwide.For more, check out founder Steven Chen's GuruFocus publications - https://www.gurufocus.com/ic/space.php?uid=451967&do=article

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