Acronyms – the Dark Side

naming and acronymsIf you are in research, government, or some scientific or medical industry, acronyms likely dominate many product and company names. In our previous post, we talked about how “acronaming” can actually be useful and beneficial. However, there are a number of pitfalls that can quickly steer you from the safe and productive path of acronaming, to the wild, weird, and destructive path of acronym wasteland. To avoid becoming an acronym casualty, put these best-practices in your guidebook.

To experience success, an acronym typically needs to be:

1.)    Meaningful. Unless the acronym itself is a short, real word (e.g., AIM, EDGE, GEO or PRO), they don’t engage. That is, they do nothing to help support your USP, brand positioning or any other key differentiator.

2.)    Easy to say. Acronyms are often challenging to pronounce and annoy customers by forcing them to say each letter individually.

3.)    Memorable. They are harder to remember than short, snappy real-word-like names and very few can remember what the acronym stands for.

4.)    Registerable. They are often difficult to register as a trademark.

5.)    Unique. They tend to get lost in the alphabet soup of all the other similar acronyms, causing customer confusion and brand dilution. For example, a quick Google search for CABC yielded 173,000 hits including,,,, etc.

6.)    Not Too contrived. Coming up with words to fit each letter of the acronym can often result in overly contrived name that turns-off prospects instead of making sense and supporting a key attribute or benefit.

7.)    Able to stand alone. Acronyms are rarely compelling, intriguing, evocative, emotional or self-propelling.

So, if you follow these specific guidelines, using acronyms in a name can be largely successful; however, it is not easy. For almost all of our clients, we recommend avoiding acronyms altogether and instead focusing on more compelling and relevant real words or real-word like names. We’ll post more about this strategy soon. Happy naming!

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