Writing Tip: What about Coke? Using Brand Names

Writing Tip: What about Coke? Using Brand Names

by: Ronovan


I am a somewhat member of an online authors group of sorts and recently a discussion about using brand names came up. I read a few of the comments, but to be honest a lot of them were just a bit . . . well I’ll be honest, self important blowhards just wanting to be disagreeable or agreeing but in essay form.


Here are my thoughts in brief:


  • It is LEGAL to use brand names in your works. No problems there. Go right ahead and do it.
  • There are brand names that are what I call standard names for things now. Coke? Here in the South if you ask someone if they want a Coke it’s like asking them if they want a soda. It’s not necessarily being used as a brand name but a type name. A response might be, “Yeah, get me a Dr. Pepper.” Think the same thing with Kleenex and tissue. You don’t care if it’s a Kleenex as long as you get a tissue.
  • Use brand names when they make sense, especially to the character. I had a character in an action/thriller that smoked a particular kind of cigarette from a specific country. That was relevant to the character and was part of evidence. When the main character went to another country and rented a car I did research as to what kind of cars were there to rent. But don’t go overboard. If you can say the man rented a compact car that had his knees around his chin, do so. But if the character is flashy and seems into material things then you may specify a very expensive sports car. But always have it be relevant.


Use brand names if they are relevant and it’s legal to do so. End of story.


© Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com-June 23, 2014.

5 thoughts on “Writing Tip: What about Coke? Using Brand Names

  1. I was always told that it were unwise to use brand names in your works, so this comes as a surprise for me. But then, I guess there are some brands that are simply becoming a part of the English language – like Kleenex and Coke. And Google. I’d still recommend not to use them, though, just to be safe. It’s hard to know who would be happy with it and who wouldn’t…


    • If you are going to use it in an extremely unflattering way I might be cautious about it. But really using brands should only really be used if advancing the story somehow. 🙂


      • Definitely! I find it a bit awkward when brands are used constantly, even though they hold no relevance. In a way I prefer to read about a fictional world than one which is heavy on its Kleenex usage, but that’s just personal taste! 🙂


        • Absolutely. Then it becomes one of those things you have to remember. 🙂 I changed the kind of car in one novel three times and didn’t know it until my third revise. Just say Ford truck. 🙂 Leave some things to the reader to fill in that is comfortable to their imaginations.


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