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BABOAA (Building a Brand on an Acronym)


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We are all surround by acronyms and meaningless letters. Every business and industry has its acronyms and initials. Today, we all need a decoder ring to make sense of all the abbreviations and acronyms. Actually, there is a website Acronym Finder dedicated to decoding acronyms and abbreviations with more than 4 million definitions. We don't even notice how many initials and acronyms we use in a day like, 24/7, WWW, LOL, TBD, ASAP, FYI, ROI and SOL, to name a few.

After Y2K and the DotCom bubble there seem to be a trend for companies to move towards acronyms and initials to reinvent themselves, such as: The Hudson Bay Company (HBC), The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), British Petroleum (BP) and Bank of Montreal (BMO).

Some did this to expand into new markets where English was not the primary language or to remove words that made the company seem too regional, old and not global.

There have also been brands that have had a long life as initials such as: GE, IBM, HP, BMW, UPS, SAP, AT&T, H&M, MSN and VW, to name a few. IKEA is an interesting acronym that was made up from the founder's initials I. K. (Ingvar Kamprad). The E came from the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and the A from his home county (Agunnaryd in Sweden).

The charm of initials and acronyms are their simplicity. There is no need to memorize several words, especially if they are long and difficult to pronounce (especially German words). They can easily be communicated in many languages, cultures and countries. Graphically, initials and acronyms can create a strong design mark that can also convey emotional dynamics and can be legally protected.

The main problem is they mean nothing upfront. Remember your first day in a new company - all those nonsensical abbreviations. . . all just a scramble of letters. Over time, you had to load each with meaning and build a mind library of what each letter represented if you could actually remember the literal words.

Small and medium size companies can't afford the time and money to build a brand from initials and acronyms, unless the initial or acronym is very unique and memorable.

However, there is a way to cheat by using the initials/acronym as a design mark with the words that represent the initials. Consulting firms like law, advertising, architectural, where the people are the differentiating USP tend to use the founders names as the brand. For survive purposes, they must abbreviate the brand name to simple letters or acronyms to help the customer. Just make sure the final initials/acronym does not spell words you couldn't say in front of your mother. The popular FCUK stands for “French Connection UK" a trendy clothing store.

Today, people automatically gravitate to simple initials and acronyms to save their typing thumbs. Many companies have also abbreviated their company names to have more memorable URL addresses that can be easily typed.

The WWW, emails, chat rooms and text messaging has created a new abbreviated language and with that new brand names.

BFN (Bye for now).

Derrick Rozdeba - I am a connoisseur of fine brands. Using my brand appreciation and insights, like a sommeliers, I will impart my knowledge and opinion in savoring the many brands that identify our lives. Visit my blog


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