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© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. According to the marketing literature on sound symbolism, "K" is overrepresented as the initial letter in top brand names relative to the frequency with which it appears as the initial letter of words in the English dictionary. However, it is now 35 years since the original study on 'the K-effect' was published and there is, of course, a possibility that trends have changed during that time. Using the Top 200 company names from the Fortune 500 list, and comparing the initial letter-frequency to two benchmarks (i.e. the relative frequencies of first letters of words in the English dictionary and Card and Eckler's (1975) derived letter-frequencies), our analyses (using conservative Bonferroni corrections) reveal, in fact, that A and J are overrepresented as initial letters in top company names, while S is underrepresented. We argue that the paucity of company names starting with the letter K, and the fact that K is thought to be unique, may reflect an opportunity for those starting new companies.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Brand Management

Publication Date





666 - 678