a quick grammar rant for corporate trademarks

October 22, 2011 5:10pm
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I get frustrated when companies create trademarks that are grammatically awkward, and then want to harp on their consumers for “incorrect usage” of the brand name that they’ve come to know and love. Two examples come to mind of this:

  • Legos vs. LEGO Bricks
  • the Magic Kingdom vs. Magic Kingdom Park (or just Magic Kingdom)

The first one is a fairly popular subject for argument among Lego fans around the Internet, to the point where the company has even made it a point to correct people on catalogs included with their sets as well as on their website. The message is still there now, about halfway into their “Fair Play” document, citing that the word Lego is only to be used as an adjective, not a noun.

Also, they say that it should only appear in CAPS and also be followed by the ® symbol, but we’ll let that silliness slide for the time being…

The second example isn’t so much pushed by Disney, but more so just always looks awkward to me whenever they use their “preferred usage” in promotional advertising by saying, “Come see Mickey and his friends at Magic Kingdom Park! instead of “We planning to go to the Magic Kingdom today!” Saying “Magic Kingdom Park” just sounds too legal-y, and “Let’s go to Magic Kingdom…” sounds like it’s missing something.

I think there are two different scenarios – for LEGO, they’re a European company and most people in Europe refer to Lego as the medium, not the individual bricks like we do here in America, so in that case I think they’re just being stubborn … I mean, you don’t publicly scold your fans about semantics unless you’re just stubborn and/or stupid. Regarding Disney, considering how they’ve made such a big (and arguably wrong) push lately to unify all of their theme parks under the Disney Parks brand, it’s probably a marketing thing where they think they’re trying to prevent brand confusion across properties (case in point – they also now call the original Disneyland “Disneyland Park”, which is ridiculous).

It just strikes me as weird because for many companies, your name becoming a regular part of language is generally referred to as a good thing! You don’t hear Google complaining that “people should take care not to refer to any search as Googling, whereas this term should be kept specific to the Google Brand Search Engine.” Most people, myself included, aren’t going to change how we talk simply because a company decided to name their product in a way that could be open to interpretation – just be happy that I spend more money on Legos each year than most people with kids and let it go…

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