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I was recently reading a particular startup's website. The very first line goes: "Company (pronounced Com-Pa-Nee) is [description]." The big question is: is it appropriate to tell the user how to pronounce the company name on the very first line? Shouldn't this be saved for an "about" page? Does it even matter?

I should note that in this example, there are several intuitive ways to pronounce the company's name.

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closed as off-topic by DA01, Benny Skogberg, Code Maverick, Joshua Barron, ChrisF Jul 24 at 13:34

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Good question. I think ideally you don't have a name that needs an explanation of how to pronounce it. That said, if you can't get around it. Where should you place it? –  Tbolt Jul 22 at 22:15
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about branding and marketing. –  DA01 Jul 23 at 2:39
    
as a user, if I see gimmicks like this, I would distrust the coompany...bad user experience –  Chairman Meow Jul 23 at 4:09
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@ChairmanMeow marketing is often gimmicky. :) (Not that that should prevent you from distrusting the company...I have a strong distrust of marketing myself...) –  DA01 Jul 23 at 4:22
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clever of the company to come up with a name that no-one knows how to pronounce. –  sevenseacat Jul 23 at 8:54

8 Answers 8

up vote 23 down vote accepted

I wouldn't put pronunciation guide on the company's landing page because it's distracting. Landing pages should focus user's attention on the main content.

Instead of a description of how to pronounce the company name, perhaps a description of the site would be much better.

Put pronunciation details in the About Us section or footer of the site if people are curious.

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That was my intuition, too. –  Newb Jul 22 at 22:24
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If the name is difficult to pronounce, then it too might be considered a detraction. –  eeklipzz Jul 22 at 23:45
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Sometimes distracting is the intent. For a startup, I can see it being very much about 'look at us, the company and our hip attitude' more than anything. –  DA01 Jul 23 at 2:40
    
@DA01 i think that's stretching it...the intent is to distract? Seem any examples you would like to share? –  Chairman Meow Jul 23 at 4:07
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This is really more of a marketing/branding/copywriting topic. I don't have specific examples but have seen it used as a way to create a particular brand voice. 'Distract' might not a negative way to describe it. When appropriate, a more positive way may be to 'draw notice'. Sometimes the brand is more than the product. –  DA01 Jul 23 at 4:20

If done correctly it could be advantageous from a marketing perspective.

As an example, early (admittedly TV) advertisements for Hyundai used the slogan:

All day, every day, Hyundai

as a way of re-enforcing the pronunciation of the brand name. This was important as if 3 people had 3 different ways of pronouncing it, it'd be unlikely that any would know what each other was talking about - leading to a perceived lower brand awareness. during conversation.

I can't think of any modern examples off the top of my head, however I do recall having seen pronunciation guides as parts of landing pages but usually for more sites catering to more upmarket segments.

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About 8 years ago I had a pint glass that had the phrase "You're due a Deuchars" at the bottom. (Deuchars IPA, brewed by Caledonian Brewery in Scotland). –  Rob Church Jul 23 at 7:55
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I think tubs of yogurt from Fage include pronunciation. May count as a modern example. It isn't done cleverly though, but just as the example in the question. Their website also has pronunciation on the front page, at the very very top of the page in small font. –  PeterL Jul 23 at 14:55
    
Making puns with a company name is generally considered bad practice as it loads the name with concepts that are contextual and generally not designed to last as long as the company (i.e. indefinitely). –  Pierre Jul 23 at 14:57
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@RobChurch Do you remember the writing on every pint glass you've had in the past decade? –  Keavon Jul 23 at 23:28

If the landing page is for explaining what your company or product is or does, you could emulate a dictionary entry at the top of the landing page. I have seen this done on occasion, but it should only be done if it fits your style.

com·pa·ny (noun)

Credits to Google for the original dictionary design

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yeah but that's not what the OP has seen in his original post –  Chairman Meow Jul 23 at 4:06
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@ChairmanMeow The OP was asking for better alternatives and this is one of them. –  Keavon Jul 23 at 4:10

I guess if there is something interesting about the company's name, and it fits in with the type of organization (e.g. design agency) then it makes sense to do some somewhere people can see easily. Whether this should be on the home/landing page or not depends on how prominent you will make this, and how often new versus returning users hit the home/landing page.

I agree with the answer about putting it in the About Us or footer section unless you can justify having it somewhere more prominent because of the reasons I mentioned above.

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When I see companies do what you describe (on the front/landing page), it comes across as pretentious and desperate, and reeks to me like they're trying to build their business based more around their image than their service.

Givenchy, Guerlain, Gaultier...some of the top fashion houses in the world. Everybody mispronounces their names, but even they don't stoop to the level of patronizing customers by trying to correct this (on their home pages, at least)-- and this is an entire industry based around filling their clientele with self-doubt!

Apple, too, is another good one. They're all about image. They wouldn't do this.

Ubuntu also handles it well. I like their product. I don't know how the name is technically pronounced. If I cared, I could find out on their About page. But they don't try to beat me down with my own ignorance.

MAC (cosmetics, not Apple) might do something like this. But their image strikes me as having been built on overpriced goods and condescending service, so something like this would fit their theme.

In my opinion, if the first thing you feel you have to present to me is a justification of your choice of name, you might reconsider operating under an intelligible moniker or at least letting me draw my own conclusions about how to pronounce it so my first opinion of your business isn't negative.

I know it's the "cool" thing to do right now, which is why you're asking about it, but it's pedantic and unprofessional. You offer a service, right? Sell me that, not your idea of how I should perceive your company.

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If the spelling is important, you should do it before the user memorizes it with a wrong spelling. You could add the phonetic transcription in a lighter font, for example like this:

LO   company
GO  ˈkʌmpəni 

In most cases it is more important to get the user to remember the website, so he can come back again without using a bookmark. You could write something like Com-Pa-Ny for that.

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While a phonetic transcription is the perfect way to explain how to pronounce a word, my wild guess is that many users don't know how to read phonetic, particularly amongst young users. However, I cannot find any data to (dis/)confirm that statement. –  refreshfr Jul 23 at 12:13

About Page

The company IFTTT (if this then that) includes the pronunciation of their name on their about page, but not on the home page. It seems to me that if the business's name is sufficiently difficult to pronounce or the correct pronunciation is likely to be unclear, you should include the pronunciation somewhere. Including it on the about page seems more relevant than the home page.

Home Page

I've seen pronunciation on the home page in dictionary format before, but I can't think of any examples right now. They can be good, but if the home page is more than just a landing page, it might seem out of place.

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Apple makes it a standard policy to NEVER correct how a customer pronounces any of their products. This is wise, as you do not want to alienate your customer base, and patronize them possibly making them feel inferior. Nobody wants to feel "stupid".

An example of quite the opposite is your typical Starbucks experience, which includes a regular dose of lecturing in pseudo-italian by a barista, which makes you feel like "you know exactly what I meant you patronizing little piece of..." You see what I mean? Unnecessary. Makes me want to say to them, listen, you know that latte means milk in Italian, which makes this whole starbucks lingo sound really stupid to me anyways, right?

Unnecessary corrections, can lead to bad user experiences. BTW, I have tried the apple theory by pronouncing things funny and they not once tried to correct me.

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Yes, is the Ghen-yes bar? I have a problem connecting to my ick-loud account from my 'ip hoen. –  Michael Jul 23 at 21:18

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