Tuesday, March 2

Attention Brands: If You're Not Adidas, PEZ or IKEA, Kindly Stop Unnecessarily Abbreviating Things

Some of the world's most loved brands — Adidas, IKEA, PEZ, Arby's — happen to be abbreviations. And certain companies are so iconic that they've embraced going by their initials — KFC being a famous example. It's when people unnecessarily complicate things with "abreeves" (only you fans of the dearly departed TV series "Happy Endings" will get that reference) that it gets ridiculous. I recently tuned into a webinar put together by a very well-known ad agency that will remain nameless in which the host repeatedly referred to the place by its initials. Not only had I never, in all my years covering this stuff, heard of the agency referred to that way before, but as one of the letters was a "W," it actually took the presenter longer to say the abbreviation than it would have to say the actual name of the company. In fact, let's just go ahead and say that, more often than not, having "W" in a brand's identity is a horrible idea all the way around (unless you happen to be the late TV network, the WB, or George W. Bush, aka "Dubya," which, love him or hate him, has to be one of the greatest abbreviations ever). The most egregious example of a W fail is Weight Watchers, which changed its name a couple of years ago to the ludicrous and perplexing WW. Which brings to mind, for those of us of a certain age, either the early-internet-age website prefix "www" or possibly the 70s Burt Reynolds vehicle "W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings." After all this time, I'm still not exactly understanding Weight Watchers' reason for shortening a perfectly descriptive brand name that was brimming with consumer goodwill and recognizability. The way I see it, the decision is right up there with New Coke and Donald Trump
running for being elected president. On second thought, acronyms can actually be worse. Much worse. Just check out these. This one's got to be the best (although having been to Sarasota, I'm thinking maybe it was done on purpose):