The Use of ALL CAPS to shout out PRODUCT NAMES

Jim Hamilton
Oct 9, 2009

Sometimes when marketing professionals name new products, they shout them from the page by putting the name in ALL CAPS. Writing something in all capitals, whether in an e-mail or in print, has the effect of drawing attention to that word. That’s fair from a marketing perspective, but I suspect I speak for the press and analyst community when I say that this is annoying, and therefore I avoid using the all caps versions whenever possible.

The latest product to take advantage of this trend is Canon’s imageRUNNER ADVANCE (capitalized as the company proposes). The name “imageRUNNER” didn’t bother me so much because it combined capitals and lower case letters. Now that Canon has decided to maintain the old imageRUNNER branding with the new platform, it has added Advance (all in caps) to the name. The written shorthand for imageRUNNER is iR. Does that make the Advance products iRA? Writers will likely move to that contraction in an effort to avoid all of the shouting capitals.

Of course Canon isn’t the only company that is doing this. The company names IKON and RISO are capitalized, but those make sense because they are acronyms or contractions (IKON = I Know One Name and RISO = a contraction of Risograph). Kodak puts its company name in all caps in its press releases when it is associated with a product (i.e., KODAK VERSAMARK VL). It does the same even for NexPress, which is a little confusing since it appears that the proper usage of the product name is with the N and P capitalized. I think what this means is that Kodak uses the shouting of all caps for its intended effect within the confines of its press releases but acknowledges that different rules may apply elsewhere. This is interesting because it aligns with something I have felt all along, which is that different rules apply for company-sponsored marketing documents and analysis written by others about those companies’ products and services.

My goal in writing analysis is to deal with all caps product names in the same way that I deal with the wide range of “marketing” words (such as unique, seamless, market-leading, etc.) that are used extensively in press releases. The marketing words either come out entirely or are replaced with reasonable alternatives. In the end, I think the product name should speak for itself without the shouting of all caps.

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