To test their memory and spelling abilities, we presented Americans with sound clips of various brand name pronunciations. We then asked them to spell what they heard, and the results were eye-opening! Keep reading to see the most common mistakes people across the country made in trying to spell different brand names correctly.
Whirlpool was the brand Americans misspelled the most when searching online.
20% of respondents thought Christian Louboutin was Christian Louis Vuitton.
Women were better at spelling Lamborghini and Maserati than men.
Close But Not Quite
It seems as though sometimes our technology knows what we’re thinking before we do. Google can usually make sense of what you're trying to find, even if you're a bit off the mark. This may be a good thing, since we found that many people misspell brands when searching for them online. We analyzed Google Search Trends to find which brands were most commonly misspelled in online searches conducted in each state.
We found that Whirlpool was the hardest word to spell, with the spelling “Wirlpool” taking the top spot in 12 different states. Some misspellings were even more surprising. In Massachusetts, Gillette was the most commonly misspelled brand (“Gilete”), despite the razor company operating out of Boston. Georgia's most common misspelling—“Tubberware” instead of Tupperware—has recently caused quite a stir online. A podcast clip of a man learning the proper spelling of the brand went viral on TikTok, with many commenting they had thought the same thing. Nationwide, we found the most common misspellings were “Sketchers” for Skechers, “FedX” for FedEx, and “Febreeze” for Febreze. Thankfully, none of these are typical spelling bee answers.
Learning About Luxury
Many luxury brands have names that can be difficult for Americans to pronounce, let alone remember how to spell. We presented respondents with 10 different audio clips of luxury brand names to test their spelling skills after listening.
The most commonly misspelled luxury brand name was Italian fashion company Dolce & Gabbana, with 63% of respondents getting it wrong. They tried several different incorrect spellings for both names, like “Dolche and Gabana.”
The next most frequently misspelled name revealed how respondents can confuse different brand names: 60% got the spelling of Christian Louboutin wrong, with 20% spelling the last name as “Vuitton.” But a fair share of respondents – 46% – also couldn’t spell Louis Vuitton correctly when prompted. The same number of people also spelled French luxury fashion brand Hermès incorrectly, most often as “Hermez.”
The likelihood that a respondent would spell a luxury brand correctly increased as their income level increased. People in a higher income bracket are likely more often exposed to (and owners of) high-end luxury brands. A recent study found that those making between $9,000 and $10,000 per month – between $108,000 and $120,000 annually – were substantially more likely to own Louis Vuitton fashion or accessories. One exception to this trend was streetwear brand Balenciaga, whose spelling saw the smallest increase by income level compared to the more traditional luxury brands.
It wasn’t just luxury clothing brands that gave respondents trouble at the keyboard. Car brands weren’t so easy for them to recall, either.
When played an audio recording of a car brand name and asked to spell what they had just heard, only 40% of respondents could correctly spell Maserati, making it the most misspelled car brand. Common misspellings included “Mazerati” and “Maseratti.” Overall, women were more likely than men to spell car names correctly, especially luxury names such as Maserati or Lamborghini. Although, perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising as women buy 62% of all new cars.
Generally, respondents were less likely to correctly spell luxury car brand names versus those of more common brands like Toyota and Hyundai. But even the best-selling car brand in America wasn’t immune to misspellings: 22% of respondents misspelled Toyota, sometimes as “Toyoda,” “Tayota,” or “Toyata.” However, the least misspelled brand name in the survey was Audi, a luxury car with the shortest name on the list. Perhaps a shorter word scramble is easier.
Savvy About the Shelves
Moving on from clothing and cars, we wanted to see how well respondents could spell items they were more likely to interact with daily and may even have in their own homes.
Several food brand names gave respondents a hard time, but none more so than Ghirardelli, with 61% of respondents misspelling their name. Many disregarded the extra or silent letters in the chocolatier’s name for a simpler, more phonetical spelling, “Giradeli.” Another popular chocolate brand, Lindt, also proved tricky and was most often spelled as “Lynt.”
Double letters also tripped up our spellers (similar to some Wordle answers), as almost half forgot the second “L” in Orville Redenbacher's popcorn logo. Even more respondents forgot the double “A” in Häagen-Dazs: 56% had difficulty with the Danish name for this Bronx-born ice cream company. Many also added a second “D” to Budweiser and an extra “R” to Pillsbury.
Educated on Entertainment
To wrap up this study, we presented respondents with the names of different media and entertainment brands to see how much they retained about these companies when it came to their spelling.
Media brands proved tough for our respondents. Metro Goldwyn Mayer was the most misspelled brand name among any category, with 71% of respondents getting it wrong. Perhaps that’s because most people know the media (and gambling) company by the much simpler MGM.
While younger generations might seem more in the know about media, they didn't fare any better than their older counterparts when it came to spelling the names of these brands. Video game companies also presented problems, as our youngest respondents commonly misspelled both Nintendo and Activision – two huge names in the gaming industry. This issue wasn’t due to a lack of familiarity, as 25% of Gen Zers reported being familiar with both brands. Sony was the easiest media brand name for respondents to spell. Although they’re a foreign brand, the four-letter name likely helped.
Different generations tended to misspell different brand names. Baby boomers were most likely to misspell Charter Spectrum, while Gen Xers most often got Ubisoft wrong. Millennials were most likely to misspell Shazam, and Gen Zers had trouble with Reuters.
The Spelling Struggle
Despite how often we interact with brands on a daily basis, it's hard for most Americans to remember how to spell their names. Even simpler names like Whirlpool were commonly misspelled in Google Search. But women fared better, even with names of some of the hardest Italian automakers. Overall, the trickiest brand name to spell was MGM's full name, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, while short and simple Sony proved to be the easiest. Even the shortest and most recognizable names couldn’t garner a 100% accuracy rate, so it’s a good thing autocorrect can help us out.
This study used two unique methodologies. First, commonly misspelled brand names were analyzed using Google Search Trends to find the top misspelled brand name by state. Second, a survey was conducted of Americans where they were presented with an audio clip of a brand name and asked to spell the brand name.
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