I yearn for a return to the simple life. A return to the days of my childhood when sentences always started with a capital letter. When companies spelled out their names, each word starting with a capital. When a capital would never be placed in the middle of a word …
(See the bottom of this blog for a survey of my new corporate name, too).
One of my many activities is acting as the editor of a magazine. I can’t tell you how many firms insist that their company name and product name always be capitalized in print. If you comply to their requests, you end up having a page shouting at you with capitalized NAMES in every paragraph.
It’s become a real fad and it must stop.
BLOATED CORP. is proud to announce the new advanced MEGATHRUSTER 560X. As part of BLOATED CORP’s CHUGBLASTER portfolio, the BLOATED MEGATHRUSTER 560X revolutionizes the …
(These are made up terms in case someone is trying to read some significance into it).
As I type, I realized the idea is to catch attention. Those succumbing to this habit must imagine a world when people only ever scan text, and never read it. So why try to engage the viewer with something intelligent? Just SHOUT out your NAME and PRODUCT enough times and they will hypnotically head down to the store and by it. It may also be a byproduct of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) generation that thinks only about key words and appears to care little about actual message or content value.
Further variants of the capitalization fad seek to alter traditional grammatical structures. Some try to NOT capitalize their company name. Instead of “Bloated” it is just “bloated.” But how do you start a sentence with their company name if it doesn’t have a capital? After all, that is the time-honored way to let the reader in on the fact that you started a new sentence.
Another one is small cap and big cap muddles that are impossible to remember. Say the company is called “A Bad Idea.” Why can’t they just say that? Instead, it becomes aBadIdea or aBadIDEA. There are worse ones with even more complexity: 2DUMB2c or bFUDDLd and so on. I wish I could remember the most baffling one I ran across a few months ago. It took me several minutes just to get it right for an article I was writing. Something like e21socHyPerV.
I’m not keen either on what has become the norm in IT. Microstrategy becomes MicroStrategy. Metrotech becomes MetroTech. Network Appliance becomes NetApp. You’ll notice that Microsoft skipped the capital S in the middle. Actually, nearly all the top companies in IT don’t use this played out capitalization device. (eBay comes to mind as an exception – but at least they named it way back when eSomething seemed cool for a short time).
Anything else to say on capitalization? Abbreviation! Another fad is to take an established corporate name such as “Bitter, Twisted and Vengeful,” and shorted it to BTV. Why bother? The Royal Bank of Scotland had a wonderful name. Words such as “Royal,” “Bank,” and “Scotland” all trigger certain feelings about money – trust, dependability, personal independence, and other associations flow freely from these words. Yet, in the midst of a global expansion, they change it to RBS? Now what do you associated with RBS or BS, for that matter? All I hear about now are layoffs, branch closures and corporate fallout. It should revert to its original title.
If you are a huge name such as the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) or International Business Machines (IBM), it’s likely that others will shorten your name over time. In those cases, the abbreviated version is fine. But in most cases, the letters don’t clue you in to their identity, and you have to look up what they stand for. Sadly, most websites don’t even tell you what their original title was. They assume everyone knows. Industry associations are particularly guilty of this. The IBCFM (made up name) website doesn’t tell you that the letters stand for the International Brotherhood of Commercial Flooring Manufacturers.
This last one doesn’t concern capitalization so much as renaming a well-known company. This goes on in the energy sector, in particular. But the epidemic has spread to such a degree that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is monitoring it closely.
Recent one: Statoil (the national oil and gas company of Norway) changed its name to Equinor. Firstly, I commend the company for not using “eQuinor” or “EQUINOR,” etc. But seriously? They are trying to address their image – oil having negative connotations. They want to communicate sustainability, environmental stewardship and so on. But a) Statoil is a well-known name b) they haven’t stopped drilling and extracting massive volumes of oil and gas. So why obscure it? To me, Equinor sounds like a better name for Norwegian stable or horse jumping outfit.
Other ones: Northeast Utilities to Eversource Energy; Northern States Power to Xcel Energy; Middle South Utilities to Entergy. The newer names sound better, except you have no idea where they operate. The telecom companies like these sweeping name changes, too.
That’s it! I have decided to change my company from Robb Editorial.
Please vote for your favorite:
Let me know, Drew.