Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD in Business


Department of Mathematical Sciences: Business Analytics

First Advisor

Dominique Haughton

Second Advisor

Axel Seemann

Third Advisor

Lan Xia

Fourth Advisor

Anne Roggeveen


Forbes Magazine's 2018 publication of "the World's Most Valuable Brands" illustrates a dramatic statistic: of their 100 top ranked brands, each had an estimated brand value of over $7B! In the US, however, the very legislation that protects brands from dilution also contains language on how to cancel a trademark that has become generic. This phenomenon is known as Brand Genericide. To best equip marketers with the ability to strategically influence this phenomenon, I offer an explanation as to "why" it exists, a detailed a methodology for tracing it, a series of strategic interventions for influencing it, and a discussion on how to design a mnemonic device to impede it.

Relying on causal origin theory, cognitive psychology, and referential governance, I focus on a parallel event to lexical genericization: the naming ceremony of a product class. Driven by this ceremony, a failure of buffered counterfactual dependence in the original brand-name-using-practice opens the door to a potential dubbing of a homonymous referring term that instead references the product class. If the generic-brand-naming-using practice takes hold in the community, it then primes the trademark for potential revocation. By looking at how referential governance is both destroyed & reestablished, I offer a three-phase model of the Brand Genericide process.

To operationalize the three-phase model, I demonstrate a detailed methodology for extracting indicators of Brand Genericide from social media, tagging the relevant communicative exchanges with part-of-speech, assessing which phase of Brand Genericide is likely active, and providing strategic interventions to enhance, impede, or maintain the social learning process.

Finally, by looking at a specific instrument, the jingle, I discuss how the diffusion of knowledge of a brand name's reference/referent relationship has the potential to impede Brand Genericide. However, with a gap in the marketing and music analysis literatures on what features make a jingle "successful", I detail a research agenda aimed at uncovering the recipe for increasing the familiarity of a brand's reference after limited exposure. To accomplish this, I define & execute a novel methodology for clustering jingles to create profiles that can be contrasted in a future experimental design.