Is Acronym-Based Naming Out of Time?

Who, or what, is that?
ISS, International Space Station or Integrated Social Selling? I-O, Input-output or Immuno-oncology, or the name of one of Jupiter’s moons? API, Air Pollution Index, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient, Application Program Interface or Associated Press International? VC, Venture Capital, Voice Chat or… Viet Cong? You get the picture.

Jumping into the alphabet-soup name game
At this stage of technology-based communications and industry-specific terminology, “Acronymphilia” has secured its place in a frequently confusing arena. Sticky burrs lie in wait as you enter the realm of business naming with an acronym. But first, think about the big dish of caveat in front of you entrepreneurs considering the risk.

Components of a signature acronym
The more brand elements built-in to enhance your business messaging, the more viable the acronym. The chosen letters should somehow represent the business and, better still, its core values. N.O.W., the National Organization for Women, exemplifies this very well. Not only does it identify its audience and state a cause-based purpose, it conveys a sense of urgency in a powerful reference to the concept of time. Better yet, it’s usually pronounced as the word itself, and not just the letters.

Legacy and personification
Quantas, initially named Queensland and Northern Territory and Aerial Services, showcases a made up word derived from an acronym. The original name was cumbersome and not in the least bit interesting or memorable. By now, the airline’s legacy status has brought us to a place where we typically associate the brand with an adorable Koala bear awkwardly consuming bamboo leaves. That kind of brand personification doesn’t happen overnight.

Variations on the acronymized theme
Syllabic abbreviations combined to make up a new name are considered – by some - to be a type of acronym, which uses the addition of non-initialized letters. Companies like Nabisco, the food giant formerly known as National Biscuit Company and Weruva, the pet food makers who named their business by using the first two letters of each of their three cats named, Webster, Rudi and Vanessa, have done it. Is it clunky or is it enough to endear you?

Just memorable isn’t good enough
Weave in more than one concept, brand angle, trait or service offering, but don’t create an acronym solely for the purpose of shortening the name you have in mind. Let it draw a straight line to what you offer. When it comes to acronyms, it has to connect to the brand it represents.

Confusion is costly!
Illustrating the point; I’m on the mailing list for Investor’s Business Daily. The headline from one of their recent newsletters read, “Get Social with IBD”. Now I understand that the third letter of the acronym is different, but by the split seconds it takes me to get to the letter I, and then the letter B, my mind has already gone to IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is unfortunate and definitely not something to “get social with”.

Cringeworthy, but so very amusing
For a bit of levity, here are a few examples of gaffes in lettering-only naming:

T.B.A.G. - Tempe Bicycle Action Group

B.A.R.F. - Biologically Appropriate Real Foods

S.H.A.G. - Senior Housing Assistance Group

V.A.G. - Visual Arts Gallery

W.T.F. - Women Take Flight

You’ve got to wonderWTF were they thinking?

Maybe acronyms are best left for the mnemonic device
S.M.A.R.T., an acronym employed to guide the progress of measurable goals, whereby each letter stands for a value in the process  - specific, memorable, attainable, relevant, timely - with several variations, is used as a management tool for some organizations. Didn’t we all use an acronymic “trick” to memorize the order of the planets orbiting around the sun? My Very Easy Method, Just Say you kNow Planets, is one that I use for recall. Which one do you use?

In the E.N.D. - no, not Exotic Newcastle Disease or Energy Never Dies
You can see why due diligence is strongly advised when considering an acronym for your business name. And unless it’s extraordinary, this kind of naming should be left in the past.

N.U.F.F. - National Union of Freedom Fighters - said.

Please, pretty please... won't you share an acronymic anecdote, any encounter with letters-based names, whether good, bad or absurd? That would be so much F.U.N. Jump on to our website mailing list to have more content like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Lessons From the Classroom: How Your Surroundings Inform Innovation and Progress in the Workplace

Fresh ideas won’t survive in a suffocating environment

Developing on-point business ideas for your startup or brand refresh are more likely to produce effective results if you clear the path first. Brand intuition that leads to targeted names and taglines, revealing content, and vivid marketing copy - the next WOW moment in your business -  is guided by the showcase you provide for it.

If your surroundings are in disarray, ambiguity will follow

For over 15 years I worked throughout the NYC school system as an arts education specialist. Typically, the residencies I conducted lasted for five to ten sessions with at least four or five classes involved in the daily program. During that period of time I must have been in and out of a few hundred schools and almost 1,000 classrooms. I made my imprint on approximately, 10,000 students every year, which amounts to a staggering 150,000 children over the long haul.

I cite these roughly estimated, but very fair, numbers to give some perspective.

The state of the room is the state of affairs

Whether I was teaching workshops in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan, I made the same observation. The physical condition of the classroom directly correlated to the classroom’s efficiency. If the room was a mess, the classroom energy was chaotic and the students lacked focus. If an orderly classroom environment prevailed, the students were high functioning and they met all their benchmarks.

It was that simple... every time

Sometimes, I’d get to a new classroom early, while the teacher and students were somewhere else in the building. All I needed to know about the experience I was about to have was right in front of me. I’d pan slowly around the room. My pre-assessment never failed.

You are your environment

Extracting from the adage, you are what you eat, it’s easy to determine that you are your surroundings and little gets accomplished in bedlam.

An organized process is the gift that keeps on giving

Several industries have a name for what I’m talking about. In the restaurant industry it’s called mise en place, the French culinary term for putting everything in its place.

Be the student in the orderly classroom

Tidy up! Your office, desk and other work surfaces are waiting to be cleared and wiped down. I promise that it will set the framework for forward movement. It’s a simple conclusion with a big payoff when your ideas take on light, form and color.

What’s the state of your physical environment when you are most productive? Please share your experience here or contact Robin at 347.247.2202 or to talk about putting those soon-to-be amazing ideas into words that work for your business venture.

Why Your Marketing Copy Should be Vibrant

No time for words?

In the Content is King era, we hear continuous warnings to “be concise!”, especially when it comes to content. For those of you who have been living and breathing the mantra, keep it short... consider this counterpoint.

When Google went on a diet

The command to generate short content may have been - at least in part - a backlash to the keyword stuffing trend that preceded it, before the Google search engine changed its criteria. It was time for the Google beast to stop consuming empty calories in the form of meaningless copy and web content as we knew it, changed completely.

To click or not to click?

Brevity is just one valid piece of the evolving puzzle of social media and satellite postings. Seemingly stuck in a continuous loop of content volume overload, we are cajoled with provocative subject headers, and with that insistent beckoning - come on, click… you know you want to - we become acutely aware - again - of the daily time crunch.

Don’t sacrifice what’s sweet
in the service of what’s short!

The requisite to be concise has to be balanced with language that’s vibrant enough to spend your precious time reading and meaningful enough to feel that you’ve gained something valuable in the process.

Otherwise, it’s the equivalent of white noise on a page - and a waste of time risking carpal tunnel syndrome on useless clicks.

A good read is a great ride

It captures the reader’s imagination when it lilts, spikes and dips. It employs both long and short sentences, percusses a little, then waxes lyrical. Some words are monosyllabic - ironically that’s five syllables - and some are teased out. It pulls back, then rushes forward. Sometimes it pulls out all the stops.

It’s all good if the trajectory takes your reader somewhere pleasing.

A few extra well-chosen words are worth it

Sole dependence on the bare facts won’t do your business any favors. Because there are likely many businesses who provide similar products or services as yours, imagination is the void to be filled. Because Imagination evokes emotional connection which creates meaning. And that’s the stuff that makes a brand memorable.

We are people who just happen to be consumers

The next time you write a post try balancing out the rules of traditional copywriting for logic and clarity with descriptive phraseology. New brand enthusiasts are on the way!

in keeping with the context of this post, I hope you feel that your time was well spent. If so, please let me know! Join our mailing list for more vivid, revealing, memorable copy.