February 04, 2009

Making a Mark with Brand Punctuation

Brand namers are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to utilize the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Perhaps the answer is beyond those letters. A punctuation mark in your brand name not only helps it stand out from the crowd, but, if it is truly distinctive, can even be registered and protected as part of your trademark.

Look at how these brands have used a little punctuation in a big way:

Consumer identification with the asterisk between E and Trade is so strong that the punctuation itself is part of E*Trades registered trademark. The asterisk has also been extended across E*Trade’s marketing materials, serving as a calling card for the brand.

If a name ever needed an exclamation point, Yahoo was it. Without added punctuation the word Yahoo was at risk for coming across as an insult or as sarcasm. The exclamation point forces audiences to read the name as it was intended, as a celebratory shout. The simple mark has become as much a part of the name as the letters themselves.

If you think that this name is simply using traditional diacritics to stay true to its foreign heritage, think again. The umlaut in Häagen-Dazs is as meaningless as the name itself. The brand simply uses two made up words with cleverly placed punctuation in order to appeal to upscale audiences seeking a super-premium ice cream import.

Contributed by Maghan Cook

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