December 8, 2006
This Blog Post Brought to You by the Letter “Q”
Back when I was in elementary school, my teacher taught me that the letter “Q” was inseparable from the letter “u.” The first time I saw a “Q” without a “u” next to it (in the airline brand name “Qantas”), I was baffled.
But “Q” stands on its own quite nicely in brand names. Its rarity makes it more popular with marketers. It stands out. The Q in “Q-Tips” stands for “quality,” but “Quality Tips” lacks the distinctiveness of the Q on its own.
“Q” has mystique and modernism. In the James Bond films and novels, the secret service department responsible for creating all the fancy gadgets is “Q Section,” and its head usually just referred to as “Q.” This consonant association inspired Motorola to call its new more-than-a-phone device “Q.”
In fact, there are 603 US trademarks either pending or already registered for products and services named “Q,” without any embellishment.
And in the past few years, “Q” has actually become a popular substitute for “K.” This is partly to make names seem more hip and partly to make them easier to trademark. There are even two search engines with U-less "Q" brands names: FinQoo and Seeq. Americans are just getting much more comfortable with the U-less “Q” than they were in my elementary school days.
And that's not only because it appears in the name “Iraq.”
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