In the new issue of the Copyediting newsletter, Paul R. Martin writes:
Today's lesson, class, is about the differences between company names and brand names or logos.
Hey, that's my lesson!
Paul goes on to discuss the latest example of the signs-don't-match-the-name phenomenon. The stores of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which once bore signs reading WAL*MART, now bear signs reading Walmart*. We grown-up publications types don't go for starbursts or asterisks (or all caps when initials aren't involved, for that matter), but should we now be writing about Walmart rather than Wal-Mart?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: As with J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and its JCPenney stores, and Exxon Mobil Corp. and its ExxonMobil service stations, we're faced with one rendition for the company and another on the signs it uses. Because it would be rather silly outside of a discussion like this to write about "J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and its JCPenney stores" or "Exxon Mobil Corp. and its ExxonMobil service stations," we grown-up publications types need to pick one rendition or the other, and it makes sense to choose the one that's on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If you're still rooting for "Walmart," by the way, the company behind the stores, as Paul Martin points out, makes a bid for the "most refreshing bit of logo candor" award in its news release announcing the change in typography:
In its 46-year history, Wal-Mart has freshened up its logo on a number of occasions. Its last revision was in 1992.
Wal-Mart, eh? Well, there you go.