A while ago I started thinking about famous people who spelled their names using only lowercase letters. After having done a little research, I came to realize a couple of things. One: There’s not a lot to write about people with lowercase names. And two: A lot of big companies also spell their names using nothing but lowercase letters in their logos — and for good reason.

First, let’s check out the lowercase name people. More well-known ones include singer k.d. lang, artist/rapper/producer will.i.am and poet e e cummings (although Jeopardy! genius Ken Jennings says the lowercase spelling of the poet’s name stuck after being used by a publisher, and that Edward Estlin Cummings usually signed his name using mixed-case letters — just like the rest of us).

In the world of big business, Target and Sears have lowercased their logos and signage in some cases, while that of Walmart, as it’s currently written, has morphed from WAL*MART and Wal-Mart to what we see today. (Walmart lost its hyphen, which it called a “squiggly,” in early 2018, making it easier to search for on the internet.)

Joining Walmart in its march away from all uppercase letters are companies such as Kraft and Southwest Airlines, while many other outfits have done away with the capital letters in their logos altogether.

Companies such as amazon, bp, citibank, ebay and intel have gone full lowercase with their logos, which they feel makes them appear “casual and approachable.” So too has pepsi, while Coke, on the other hand, remains committed to “Coca-Cola,” its iconic mixed-case script logo. BAND-AID and BEST BUY are among those who’ve stuck with “strong” uppercase letters.

It should be noted that the results of a Google search will yield results that show most of these companies’ names beginning with a capital letter, but the names in their logos are actually all lowercase. And, speaking of Google, they insist (as does lowercase xerox) that their name is a noun, not a verb. So the next time you tell somebody to “Go google it,” you’re telling them in lowercase.

The name of another tech giant, Apple, still starts with an uppercase letter, but the names of some of its products seem to defy categorization. While the monikers iPod, iPhone and iTunes remain consistent, the capitalization of some of the names of other Apple products is totally random. For example, while the “n” in “iPod nano” is not capitalized, the second “a” in “iPad Air” is.

Now, if you’re anything like me — Lord help you — you’re probably wondering, “Do I need to capitalize the ‘i’ in ‘iPhone’ if it’s the first word in a sentence?” I recently happened across a rule that appears to have been made just for Apple’s products. It says that you should capitalize that first letter unless it’s lowercase and pronounced separately while the second letter is capitalized.

In other words, “iPhone” would remain “iPhone” at the beginning of a sentence. If beginning a sentence with a lowercase letter rubs you the wrong way (as it does me), then the only logical thing to do is to rework the sentence so it starts with another word.

In the world of athletic wear, the logo battle is pitched. NIKE has chosen to go with “dominant and masculine” all uppercase, while rival adidas went with all lowercase, which is perceived as “friendly and feminine.” Actually I think that the brand should be spelled “AdiDas,” since it’s a shortening of the name of its founder, Adolf “Adi” Dassler. It seems that we’ve wound up with yet another lowercase celebrity.

Jim Witherell of Lewiston is a writer and lover of words whose work includes “L.L. Bean: The Man and His Company” and “Ed Muskie: Made in Maine.”


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