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Wal-Mart? Wal*Mart?? Walmart???

Thursday, 13 Aug 2009 | 12:01 PM ET

What's in a name? Apparently, a lot of complications.

Wal-Mart employees are known for spelling out the company's name in a famous cheer: "Give me a W! Give me an A! Give me an L? Give me a squiggly! M-A-R-T!"

Well, forget the "squiggly".

There's a new rule book of sorts on how to spell the name of the world's largest retailer. Media outlets are being notified by 'Walmart' (Wal-Mart? Wal*Mart?) via an editor's note at the end of news releases.

"Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the legal trade name of the corporation," the note says. "The name 'Walmart,' expressed as one word and without punctuation, is a trademark of the company and is used analogously to describe the company and its stores. Use the trade name when it is necessary to identify the legal entity, such as when reporting financial results, litigation or corporate governance."

Um, what?

Walmart logo comparison
CNBC.com
Walmart logo comparison

I'm told this means that when referring to the company "by its legal name", use "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.". Otherwise, just use "Walmart", no hyphen, and no "Stores, Inc". We are "never" to refer to the company as either "Wal-Mart", or "Walmart Stores, Inc". I wonder what would happen if I mentioned the squiggly.

So what is the CNBC response? We're pro hyphen. I mean, pro-hyphen.

At CNBC.com, when referring to the legal name of the company, we'll still call it "Wal-Mart Stores" but minus the "Inc", as is our style. (Who has the time for Inc.'s and Co.'s?) However, I'm told that when referring to the stores from a consumer's perspective, or just the brand, we'll drop the hyphen. As in "Jane loves shopping at Walmart."

  • Wal-Mart Profit Tops Forecasts; Same-Store Sales Edge Lower

On CNBC's air, it'll always be either "Wal-Mart" or "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." There will always be a hyphen.

Got that?

There will be a test later.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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