The trademark landscape is crowded—that’s for sure. It’s tough to come up with a name that’s legally available. Heck, that’s why naming agencies exist. But has it really gotten so bad that we need to resort to unpronounceable names?

That’s what I found myself briefly wondering when I came across an ad in a magazine for Xlear nasal spray. Xlear. It’s obviously inspired by “clear,” but how does that initial X work? Is it “ex-lear,” “ks-lear,” “zlear,” or what? I had to know. Through a quick check of their website, I learned that a key ingredient in the nasal spray is xylitol. Ah! That explains the origin of the X, and may even be the key to pronunciation: from xylitol, “zlear.”

Nope. After finding a video on their YouTube channel and poking around a little deeper on their website, I learned that Xlear is pronounced… [drumroll] “clear.” Huh. That seems anything but clear.

So, why did they choose this misleading spelling? We could certainly speculate, but regardless of the intent, it wasn’t a great choice. Ideally, a name shouldn’t be this hard to say when you see it, nor should it be impossible to spell when you hear it. 

But, to answer that mostly-rhetorical question I posed earlier: No, we don’t need to resort to unpronounceable names. We can be creative, and we can be smart. We can come up with names that get the right message across, and pass the trademark hurdles, and can be pronounced by customers.