Do Your Brand a Favor: Misspell It!

Have you ever made a spelling mistake when typing a URL into your browser? Ever been doubtful of how to spell to a brand’s name? I have, and I’m sure most people using the Net experience confusion frequently.

Ritz-Carlton, the hotel chain, is a good example of spelling confusion. Is the company’s name spelled with a hyphen, “Ritz-Carlton,” or without? No matter which you choose, you’ll end up on Ritz-Carlton’s home page. What if you misspell the name? “Rits Carlton,” for example. I’m sure this is a plausible mistake many of us might make. Here’s what happens: You land on a site pushing everything from casinos to greeting cards, not on the Ritz-Carlton home page.

Smart companies are aware of people’s potential to misspell (or mistype). Google, for example, includes a number of spelling options in its URL strategy. Try typing “” in your browser. Transposing the “l” and “e” is a common typographical slip. Or, you could type “” Again, skipping one of the doubled letters is a not uncommon mistake. In either of these instances, you’d successfully land on Google’s home page. All the variant URLs work perfectly.

We all get spelling wrong from time to time, even if mistakes are simply typographical rather than true. It follows that all Internet users will, at some stage, misspell a URL. Logic dictates your URL strategy should reflect this. You should purchase all the obvious variations on your brand name that could arise through misspelling.

It’s easy to get a handle on common spelling mistakes. Regularly check the error logs generated by all WWW servers to identify mistakes. In addition, ask everyone in your organization with customer contact to report the most common spelling mistakes she observes in consumer dealings with your brand. Reflect all brand name variations in your URL strategy so visitors can link directly to your brand’s home page.

Needless to say, this shouldn’t be publicized. It’s a hidden function that helps your customers find their way to your brand no matter how bad they are at remembering (or typing) its name.

Strong branding is about creating awareness, loyalty, and access. It’s fundamental you keep an eye on your customers’ communication with your brand. If you observe tendencies to specific errors, because of slips on the keyboard or unfamiliarity with the language, it’s your duty to adapt your URL strategy in response.

Yes, you can try to educate your customers regarding your brand’s correct name. But your customers’ interest in being trained is likely to be pretty low. If you instead help them find what they’re looking for, thus exposing the correct name on an ongoing basis, the subtle message will be absorbed by most people.

Do your brand a favor: Misspell it! Work all its variants into your URL strategy, and create another channel to optimize the valuable traffic you want to harness.

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