Letter Choice: The UX of Uppercase and Lowercase

Aaron Cecchini-Butler
4 min readJan 2, 2019

Recently Target made a huge decision.

And I’m not talking about their admirable stance on transgender bathroom use.

They decided to change all of the letters in TARGET to lowercase.

Notice the lowercase consistency in the “we’re hiring!”

In the picture above, you can see the lowercase version as well as the original lowercase version on the storefront windows.

In a similar, drastic change, Chobani, the yogurt maker, decided to change their wordmark. What used to be a geometric sans-serif in all uppercase became a custom serif typeface with only the first letter capitalized (like regular English!).

Left side — Original, Right side — New

These decisions demonstrate a trend toward a deeper consideration of the UX of wordmarks — and more interestingly, a willingness to make a change to something that used to be considered relatively immutable.

Even companies like JCPenney have attempted this change, although it’s not enough of a change to prevent them from closing multiple stores in 2018.

Not a huge JCPenney fan but I do prefer the lowercase!

The UX of Letter Capitalization

Typographic Web Design has a terrific article discussing the UX of letter choice.

The basic idea, in relation to uppercase letters, is that they feel:

important, powerful, reliable, and enduring. The letters are big and demanding.

Whereas lowercase letters are:

informal and tend to feel friendly. Variations in form, rounded shapes, and no initial capital letter give lowercase words a common, conversational feeling.

Add to this the variability of sans-serif vs. serif, italics, bold and other stylizations, and we have a relatively complex equation when deciding upon the use of capitalization.

The Texting Effect

According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, “sending and receiving text

Aaron Cecchini-Butler

Senior Systems Designer at Grubhub working on Cookbook (our design system) — as well as contributing to product design work.