Nearly every business wants to promote its products with bold, exciting copywriting. And that’s a good thing! However, that exuberance sometimes leads to inconsistent or unnecessary capitalization of general product nouns. (“Our new Sandwich is the best!”) Here are four tips to help you decide when to capitalize product names in your own copywriting.
(Please note that these suggestions apply to sentences rather than headings or titles, which should follow heading-style capitalization.)
1. Always capitalize your brand names and trademarked names.
Capitalized brand and trademarked names help to protect your business identity and strengthen your market recognition.
Our most popular sandwich, the Rusty Wheel, comes with rosemary fries and coleslaw.
2. Avoid capitalizing general nouns.
When you capitalize the general nouns identifying your products, such as “sandwich” or “milkshake,” you may inadvertently diminish the impact of your brand and trademarked names. Therefore, reserve capitalization for unique product names whenever possible.
The Rusty Wheel sandwich has been a staple at the Gigantic Barn restaurant since 1923. (Instead of “The Rusty Wheel Sandwich has been […]”)
3. If you do want to capitalize general nouns, establish specific capitalization standards—and then follow those standards consistently.
For example, you may want to capitalize general nouns every time they directly follow a brand or trademarked name.
Our new Bacon Tornado Milkshake includes real bacon! Pair this delicious milkshake with a Rusty Wheel Sandwich and fries for the ultimate comfort-food lunch.
Or, you may want to capitalize general nouns the first time they follow a brand or trademarked name and then use lowercase for all subsequent references.
The Bacon Tornado Milkshake is only available for a limited time. So, mosey on over for a Bacon Tornado milkshake today!
Only you can decide which capitalization standards are the right fit for your business; however, if you do capitalize general nouns, remember to do so consistently across all communication platforms including your website, printed material, and social media posts.
4. Reduce the number of product-related general nouns in your copy.
Another way to decrease the confusion surrounding product capitalization is to only use general nouns, such as “sandwich” or “milkshake,” the first time products are mentioned within a document, page, or section.
The Rusty Wheel sandwich has been a staple at the Gigantic Barn restaurant since 1923. In fact, the Rusty Wheel has been Gigantic Barn’s top seller for the past nine decades.
While you’re contemplating product capitalization standards, why not update your in-house style guide? If you don’t have an in-house style guide, consider creating one today with In-House Style Guides for Small Businesses, Part 1—Benefits and Preparation and In-House Style Guides for Small Businesses, Part 2—Selecting Topics. It’s easy and fun! Okay, maybe not fun. But it will save you a lot of time, effort, and heartache down the road. I promise!