Monday, October 16, 2006


I'll be upfront with you. Sometimes I’m a grammar nerd. I mean, I’m not perfect. I do occasionally end my sentences with a preposition. Or maybe I start a sentence with a conjunction. But for the most part, I identify dependant clauses. I properly set up my indirect appositives. Even using a gerund is commonplace for me. But one thing that has been bugging me lately is corporations intentionally misspelling words.

I recently noticed a bottle of weed killer in my mom’s garage. The name of this product is Weed-B-Gon. Just the name of this bottle pisses me off. Doesn’t it piss you off, too? It pisses me off. First, it is misspelled. Second, it is hyphenated to make a single word. Actually, it is an attempt at smashing a full sentence into a single word. A better attempt at this would be “Weeds-will-be-gone.” Or “Kill-weeds-with-this-chemical-spray.”

I am trying to find the reason for the improper spelling and hyphenation of this product. Are they marketing to illiterate yard workers? Do complete sentences turn away consumers? Is there research that proves that hyphens increase sales volume? Are they trying to piss of grammar nerd bloggers with journalism degrees?

Another example is Toys”R”Us. I can’t even type the name of the store, because my keyboard does not have a backwards R key. (Dammit, where is the backwards R? Control-function-F4? Nope. I give up.)

Like Weed-B-Gon, Toys”R”Us likes to mash an incomplete and incorrect sentence into a single word, this time using quotation marks. Just in case you were wondering, it should be Toys”Are”We. I wonder if there is a study that proves how many cases of dyslexia are even partially influenced from that damn backwards R. I know that it set me back a month or two in Forth”Grad”English”Klass.

In conclusion, just name your company or product with a short name. Maybe just a word, maybe two. People will figure out what kind of product your selling. The first word in Toys”R”Us is toys. We get it; you sell toys. Weed-B-Gon is in a similar shaped bottle (with the handle and the pump-spray nozzle) and on the same shelf in the garden section as all the other weed killers.

And please, if you do need to have a long name, take a look at the positive example executed by the fine folks at "I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!"

Footnote: Geoffrey the Giraffe, I do not like the way you spell your name. I'm more of a "Jeff" fan than a "Geoff" fan. I feel like I should pronounce your name "Gee-off." We can work through this in the meantime. I'm a Giraffe. You're a Giraffe. It's cool. But be warned, if I see you on the street and I'm with people I know, I will not talk to you.


James Wood said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I also hate the intentional misspelling in order to produce alliteration (e.g. Kids Korner).

There are some companies that get it. "Nike" - named after the Greek god of victory. Or "Starbucks" making reference to Moby Dick. Instead of crappy hyphenated-sentence-word-mash-ups, companies can be successful with intelligent references to mythology or literature.

J-Mon said...

See i think more people should go with the GE-OFF spelling of the name... but thats just me.

You are both Giraffes... and that is cool. I think you two would make good friends... you like toys he likes toys... you eat paste, he eats paste... its a match made in heaven

AH said...

Paging Kellee Weinhold.

The Mysterious Mike Houston said...

put your money where your typing fingers are mister funny capitalization GiRRAFFe