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Capital letters and product names

A handful of technology brands insist their names are written entirely in capital letters. In recent days Asus and Gigabyte have pushed this idea. There are others.

Companies can write their names however they want.

They don’t need to worry about being literate, sensible or easy to read. Although all of those things might help them.

Journalists should not write company names in capital letters. Their goal is to make information easy to understand.

This means ignoring demands to spell company names in capitals unless there are good, practical reasons to do otherwise. We’ll look at these in a moment.

Readers come first

Journalists serve readers, not markets nor companies. They do this by making information easy to get and understand. Messing around with capital letters interferes with that.

Capitals are the reading equivalent of speed bumps. They slow a reader’s flow. As you scan a text, your eye stops when it reaches a word spelled out in capitals.

This is a reason companies want their name spelled that way. It increases the impact of the word.

Words spelled out in capital letters stand out in text passages. They leap out from a page or screen.

Narcissistic companies

A less charitable interpretation is that spelling a company name in capital letters is a variation of narcissistic capitals.

Puffed-up fools think it makes them look more important. It doesn’t. In fact it can do more harm than good.

Editors who nod through product names in capitals knowingly or unknowingly put brands’ interests ahead of their reader’s interests. There can be commercial pressure to do this, especially from companies that are potential advertisers.

Some readers will realise this and learn not to trust the publication. For similar reaons, readers are, subconciously, less inclined to trust companies who insist their names are spelled in capitals. This may not be true in other cultures, but in ours, a name spelled all in capitals is a warning.

When company name are capital letters

We pronounce names like HP or IBM as a string of letters. It makes sense to write them as capitals. This doesn’t apply when company names are acronyms forming a pronounceable word.