Picture the scene. A Friday night in a busy noodle bar in the City of London. Your correspondent, after a week wrestling with the vicissitudes of verbal identity, is in need of refreshment, relaxation and ramen. He slides into the low-slung benches, menu numbers on the tip of his tongue and ready to be uttered into the willing waiter’s ear, when he espies the below:
And it is with a sad heart that he puts down his chopsticks, and takes out from his inside jacket pocket the red pen he always carries round with him, takes off its lid and with a half-hearted energy starts to add futile — almost despairing — proofing marks to a paper placemat he knows will be scrunched up and put in the recycling bag soon enough.
Of course, he muses while taking a first sip of green tea, he has always been an advocate of a brand finding something distinctive it can add to its voice — and there’s little that’s more eye-catching than a wholesale adoption of something stylistically unique like lowercase as the bedrock of a style.
It speaks of good and positive things, this deliberate embrace of the miniscule. It nods to the sense that the brand is very much in the now — no fustiness to be found here, thank you very much. It speaks of speed, quickness — we move so fast we do not have time to think about raising a case. And there is also a large degree of humility present here too: who are we, the mere purveyor of your East Asian repast, to consider that we might be in any way above you, by insisting upon the use of capital letters?
While he should be mindlessly munching his way through a delightfully light yet sharp piece of chilli squid, he ruminates that flouting the rules of traditional grammar has worked for other brands, a certain fruity, almost twee drinks provider in particular. But even there, remnants of traditional orthography are to be found, reassuringly so.
But as a splash of soy sauce troubles his lips, he is instead now wondering as to how far a brand’s commitment to a tone of voice can and should go. Normally, he would be gratified that, upon later checking, the chain’s commitment to its style extends to its terms and conditions page — but he notes that all that has happened is that the expected appearance of the majascule has disappeared. The legalese language is, sadly, still stolidly in place. And while he can see (and he smiles to himself at this intended pun) the case for doing away with the Big Letters, he struggles to see why full stops should be left stranded off the page, especially when two have managed to sneak back into the text.
Perhaps he is being taught a lesson in grammatical zen — that a lack of punctuation is enough of an indicator to show the relaxed reader where to go next. But he fears for the blood pressure of the pedantic punter, one whose heart might already be racing after one slug of chilli oil too many. He understands that a lack of understanding may cause a rage akin to when a pair of chopsticks slides out from your fingers and into the bowl.
As the last noodle is slurped, the final dumpling nibbled, he wonders as to whether he is over-reacting to all this lower casing — it is after all a statement of distinction and one with a proud heritage: beloved of beloved poets, no less. Perhaps he would be assuaged more if more brands were more radical in a similar way, taking up the causes of snake_case, kebab-case or StUdLyCaPs. But deep down he knows the frustration he will cause amongst his readers when he writes about this meal, and refuses to end his ruminations with a full stop