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Know-How Exchange

Topic: Branding

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Capitalization Standards For Brand Style Guide

Posted by Anonymous on 250 Points
My company is in the process of revamping our brand style guide, and we are rethinking capitalization standards.

We currently follow AP Stylebook guidelines, but are at a loss when it comes to how we should capitalize product names, and more importantly, what should be considered a product.

My company provides blogs and discussion groups. We consider them to be our products, and capitalize them accordingly; for example "XYZ Blogs" and "XYZ Discussion Groups." There are multiple categories of blogs and discussion groups, and we have been capitalizing the categories as well; for example "XYZ Automotive Blogs" and "XYZ Automotive Discussion Groups."

1. Only our company name, XYZ, is trademarked. Should this be the only thing that we capitalize?
2. When a common noun, like "Discussion Groups" is part of a product description, should it be capitalized?
3. Is there a style guide that provides more in-depth information on capitalization standards other than AP?
4. Who is the ultimate authority on capitalization? Is this purely a grammar issue, or legal as well?

John Yuma

  • Posted by Peter (henna gaijin) on Accepted
    1) On names and trademarked items, capitalization is up to the holder of the trademark. In other words, you can do what you want. Actually, using a non standard (e.g. all caps, all lower case, different font, different colors, etc.) makes the trademark that much more enforceable. One example is iPod, which has the second letter (not the first) capitalized. Or even this forum - which is all lower case (know-how exchange).

    2) I don't believe that Trademarks need to be officially registered (though registering does help protect the name in cases where someone else tries to use a similar name). Just using a name or saying (assuming no one else is already using it) can make it a trademark. So given this, your product descriptions are also trademarks, so default back to my comments in 1 above (you can do what you want).

    3) & 4) The style guidelines are good for non-product and company name words. They can tell you how to capitalize a person's name. But product names/trademarks/etc. can be whatever you want.
  • Posted by telemoxie on Member
    I'm not a copywriting expert, but it ceRTainLy seems tO me that imProPER capiTaliZation CaN impEDE coMmUnIcaTion...

    ... for what it's worth, to me 'discussion group' just seems a bit more open and inviting than 'Discussion Group'.

  • Posted on Accepted

    Trademarks CAN be all caps - as previously mentioned, this can attract attention. Some fonts allow you to generate the more compact all-caps, which are easier on the eyes than the regular all-caps and still attract attention.

    As far as using all lower case, I would think that this will lead to a friendlier tone, but would certainly not differentiate the words.

    By the way, be careful with what you consider trademarks, as any trademark attorney will tell you they can appear deceptively simple. Also it is a good idea to keep in mind that trademarks which are not used effectively can become substituted for non-trademark descriptors and can lose trademark protection status.

    For example a descriptor must always be used along with a trademark to avoid such issues as "give me a Kleenex" (which was once a trademark, but has now become a generic descriptor for facial tissues).

    Hope this helps,

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