Funny Business with Jane Wells

Forget Wal-Mart (Walmart?), What About JP Morgan Chase (& Co.?)

On the heels of my blog about whether or not Wal-Mart wants to be called Wal-Mart, Walmart, or Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., I got an earful about all the other confusing names out there. Is it K-Mart or Kmart? Bank of America-Merrill Lynch...really?

Few people at CNBC have to deal with this like our senior editor and booker, Lori Spechler, who weighed in with her thoughts to PR folks, in an email titled "When Good Companies go Brand."

After receiving Walmart's note about when to use a hyphen and when not to, Lori writes:

"Any company 'note' that elicits more confusion is well, confusing. Do they think this delivers a clear message? I am here to tell them it does not. There is no clarity – you should choose – Wal-Mart or Walmart – I really don’t care – but choose! I don’t want to think about it any further than that.

"While we’re at it, let’s talk about other uncertain dashes and corporate branding:  Hewlett-Packard – do you need the dash? I suppose you do, or should I go with HP? Yahoo! EXCLAMATION? Our style editor says to go without. ExxonMobil – space in the middle? No space? Exxon Mobil Corporation is the parent of Esso, Mobil and ExxonMobil companies – d’oh!

"Let’s take another Dow component: JPMorgan Chase & Co. – the following is from the company website: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM)….A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan, Chase and WaMu brands.

"So, in one paragraph, I have the formal name (JPMorgan Chase & Co.), the more casual version (JPMorgan Chase), and the one with periods after “J” and “P” as in J.P. Morgan.

"If I had a dime for every PR manager that started apologizing for branding issues. My message is this: keep it simple. We are a bunch of dolts with too much on our minds and too few brain cells. You want me to remember what to call your company? Then make it clear, make it good and keep it simple. And… thanks."

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