Corporate punctuation finds its home

Companies have stupid fetishes about their names. Tribune Company isn’t The Tribune Company, it’s Tribune Company – no damned “the.” Time Inc. isn’t Time, Inc., we were informed when I worked there, it’s Time Inc. In a corporate dining room, there used to be a memo from one of the company’s founders with a rubber comma from a stamp taped to it, saying this is where the comma went. So now AOL is becoming Aol. and is making a big deal about adding the period. Good. That pixel will make all the difference.

  • http://alecperkins.net Alec Perkins

    The obsession with the exact naming is for consistency in brand image. If being handled properly, it’s part of a larger effort within the company to control the perception of its brand, both externally and internally. Consistency, or at least the appearance of it, communicates that the company is well organized and run, and that all the parts of the company are on the same page.

    In this case, the period makes (or at least tries to make) it clear that the last letter is an L as part of the word Aol and not an I as part of an acronym AOI instead. It’s still a stupid reason, and probably only there because they want to get away from the juvenile image of the all caps while hanging on the the recognition of AOL. Of course, now it reads as “Ayeole”.

    • http://www.hypercrit.net Michael Becker

      It may communicate that the company is interested in its image and controlling that image, but it also indicates that the executives are spending way too much energy mandating a pixel rather than focusing on more important things.

    • http://www.jtrigsby.com jtrigsby

      Alec, I have to agree w/Michael. Yes indeed, it does illustrate that the company is interested in maintaining a consistent brand image… way more interested in their brand image in fact than actually letting their brand speak for itself. I mean honestly, if it was a blazing hot web property… would it really matter how they spelled it?

      Mr. Armstrong said he liked to describe the period as “the AOL dot” because “the dot is the pivot point for what comes after AOL,” whether it is e-mail, Web sites or coming offerings that will “surprise people.”

      I think their goal with the Aol dot is to add some “extras” like Aol.mail, Aol.classifieds, etc… of course, if that is what they want to do, maybe it would have been better to put the dot at the beginning .Aol ?

      jtrigsby

      • http://www.planetwebfoot.com Cheryl H

        When Mr. Armstrong was listing things that come after Aol. I see that “a life” is conspicuously absent.

      • http://alecperkins.net Alec Perkins

        I was speaking generally about companies insisting so strongly on a particular formatting (having prepared standards guides myself). I do agree that AOL has a major brand issue that goes well beyond how the name is written. Hopefully, for their sake, they can pull it together, though I’m not holding my breath. I think they are better off just ditching the brand, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • Andy Freeman

      > The obsession with the exact naming is for consistency in brand image.

      Consistency with foolishness is still foolishness.

      It’s one thing to insist on consistency with standard usage. It’s quite another to demand special usage.

      People tend to do the easy thing, which is usually the standard thing. If your branding is inconsistent with the easy thing, you’re constantly fighting with your users. If your branding is consistent with the easy thing, your users are working with you.

      Since you get to pick your branding…..

      • http://suunnittelu.atspace.com/ Jarkko

        Consistency with foolishness is still foolishness. You nailed that one!

  • Kyle

    Good thing they added the period or I’d confuse it with Aon.

    • http://www.findingthegear.com David Gehring

      Yea, AON, I used to work there! Now I can count those years insurance as experience in digital media! Saweet.

  • http://sputnik.pl/ Michal Tatarynowicz

    I think that until AOL actually does something interesting, like developing great web applications, it’s dead. Right now they’re rebranding empty space.

    • http://www.planetwebfoot.com PLANETwebfoot

      I couldn’t agree with you more Michal!!! I think it will take far more than changing caps and a period to re-establish Aol. credibility and usability. They already have a brand image but at the moment it’s not a very good one. I think working more on good customer service and interaction will benefit them far more immediately and in the long run than all the punctuation in the world.

  • Simon

    So I guess now instead of being pronounced A – O – L, it’ll be pronounced A-Hole. Sounds about right,

  • Tex Lovera

    This is like Ford now calling the Taurus SHO the “show” instead of the “S-H-O”. Stupidity in action.

    Yet contrast with the name Ford itself. Have they EVER changed their logo? So give them some credit…

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  • http://frogblog.biz Fred Schlegel

    Forcing use of a period in the middle of a sentence does nothing but confuse the reader. Maybe appropriate given Aol.’s strategy of late.

    Maybe Aol. just wants to always appear to be the last word in everything.

  • http://ubagua.com S.Smith

    Perhaps they should find out what text-messaging folks use – that could be the better branding move.

  • http://www.dankennedy.net Dan Kennedy

    Time Inc. is just straight AP style, regardless of the company. Then again, that brings me to one of my favorite AP style perversities: two-letter abbreviations use periods (i.e., U.S., U.N., U.K.). The one exception? AP.

  • http://vseledi.wordpress.com Dewer

    They can pull it together. I think they are better off just ditching the brand, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • http://dataentryjobssite.com Data Entry

    AoL is dead as a doornail, why are they worried about the period? Sell something to make money first, idiots!

  • http://www.boyaustasi.com boya

    well organized and run, and that all the parts of the company are on the same page.

  • http://www.arnavutkoyevdenevenakliyat.gen.tr Arnavutköy evden eve Nakliyat

    is well organized, thank you for enlightening comments.

  • http://seo.kursistem.com seocu

    no ? am AoL is dead as a doornail, why are they worried about the period? Sell something to make money first, idiots! yes teacher