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In software engineering, there has been a movement towards ensuring that language is more inclusive and culturally sensitive.

For example, I've been in companies that now use the word "main" instead of "master" branch, and allow-list/block-list instead of "white-list"/"black-list".

Are there synonyms for the concept of "white-labeling"?

A compound word or phrase would be acceptable. What's important to me is that people will understand what I mean. I'd like to be able to omit the explanatory line below in parentheses.

Example sentence:

"If I could go back and engineer that project again, I'd consider building it in a white-labeled way. (Instead of everything being designed just for myself, the system would also support additional customers.)"

My understanding of "private label" is more like when a grocery store wants to profit from branding a certain product but would prefer to buy and re-label and existing product. With "private label", it seems like there is a 1-to-1 relationship between product and new label. This doesn't quite fit my feeling of how I've heard "white-labeled", which implies more like "the core product is already built, and it can serve unlimited companies who each can pay to attach their logo to it."

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    I think trying to replace every instance of “black” or “white” misses the point. A white label is blank so it can be customized. I don’t understand how that usage is problematic when compared to something more obvious like “black list/white list” or “master/slave”. A “black label” variation of something is usually really exclusive/luxurious instead of “generic” like a white label something. Would you clarify the problem with “white label” please?
    – ColleenV
    Jun 30, 2021 at 18:58
  • @ColleenV I agree that words like "master bathroom" are in the most dire need of being replaced because of the obvious original meaning, but I wouldn't be surprised if white/black words in general can be problematic even when not immediately obviously so to every listener. I just want to be proactive and thinking about it.
    – Ryan
    Jun 30, 2021 at 19:18
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    @Ryan, I'm not sure the history of master bedroom is obvious, given that it first appeared in 1919. It's as problematic as master-key or master plan. Jun 30, 2021 at 19:26
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    @ColleenV It is interesting that the white/black label case actually carries the exact opposite connotations from what we'd expect. I hadn't thought of that till you pointed it out. Jun 30, 2021 at 19:43
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    johnniewalker.com/en-us/our-whisky/johnnie-walker-labels/…
    – user205876
    Jun 30, 2021 at 23:56

3 Answers 3

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Private label is what I have always known one company making a product to be sold by another company to be called.

Private label products are those manufactured by one company for sale under another company's brand.

Private label products are often the same as the one marketed by a parent brand, with a different brand label attached. While there are also companies who specialize private label products to a buyer's desires, often they already have the product and sell it to multiple buyers with different labels.

In 2007, there was a recall in the United States of more than 60 million cans of pet food sold under more than 100 brand names made by Menu Foods.

This means that over 100 brands are getting the same product with different private labeling. In other words, the core product is already built and each company pays to attach their logo to it.

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I think

Unbranded or in the UK, unbadged

Would be easily understood.

un·brand·ed /ˌənˈbrandəd/

  1. (of a product) not bearing a brand name.
    "unbranded computer systems"
  2. (of livestock) not branded with the owner's mark.

Definitions from Oxford Languages

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  • I chose this option. It also has the advantage that "unbranded" is a single word, so you don't have to worry about camel case usage (i.e. should it be "whiteLabel" or "whitelabel"?) Apr 11, 2023 at 15:37
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If "white label" is meant to denote that the label is "blank", then "Blank Label" could just as easily be used as a replacement and be more clear.

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  • Blank also means white in some languages (with all the connotations of white in English. So it depends if you're worried about connotations for non-English speakers (given that English is now a global language). Apr 11, 2023 at 15:36

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