The Case of CamelCase

Every sales rep knows there are numerous reasons we can lose a bid. One of the silliest is misspelling the client’s name. After all, it should be fairly easy to avoid, right? Just Google it.

Well, not so fast.

These days it’s even more important to double-check the name because more and more companies with separate words in their names are writing them without a space between them. It’s become so popular that smushing two names together has a name itself: It’s called camel case (or CamelCase). It’s a play off the two capital letters rising up like humps on a camel’s back, although names like eBay and iPhone are also considered camel case even though they only have one hump.

The practice has been around for decades, with early bloomers such as BellSouth, MasterCard and CompuServe. However, it’s recently become more commonplace, often brought on by company mergers like the one that gave us AstraZeneca. But some do it strictly to jumpstart their brand. Remember when FedEx was Federal Express?

As proposal editors, we bypass Google and go straight to the source, checking the client’s website for all those nitty gritty details, including the name. Maybe you don’t think it’s that important if you write Acme Care or AcmeCare – “They know what I mean!” – but understand that companies that change to camel case have gone to great lengths to do so.

For example, when Advent Health System changed its name last year to AdventHealth, it embarked on a systemwide rebranding that cost millions for TV and print ads, new signage and other visual elements at all of its hospitals. So, they will notice – and probably frown – if a proposal separates their newly branded name.

Check, then check again

Now that you know it’s important to double-check the client’s name, let’s take it a step further. Sometimes a company’s logo is camel case for branding and design purposes, but the official name is not. BlueCross BlueShield makes for a fancy logo on the website’s homepage, but the content still refers to the company as Blue Cross Blue Shield.  

And it cuts both ways. People have become so accustomed to camel case that we often see proposals come through with camel case that are not supposed to be, such as QualComm and WalMart. Those are still just Qualcomm and Walmart, respectively. We also see the same in company programs and initiatives like FoodBuy (Foodbuy) and FoodWorks (Foodworks).

But getting a program name wrong probably won’t cost you a winning bid like getting the client’s name wrong. And that’s true in any line of work.

For instance, when Nike was trying to re-sign NBA great Stephen Curry to a sneaker deal in 2013, the rep called him STEPHON during the pitch meeting. Deal breaker. Curry ended up signing with Under Armour, then went on to win three championships and two league MVPs.

Not sure what became of that rep, but you can bet he’ll forever be known as the guy who lost one of Nike’s biggest clients. Don’t be that guy.

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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