What’s In A Name or W.I.A.N?
YOG or Youth Olympic Games. This begs the question, yet again- What’s In A Name (W.I.A.N). Singapore’s inclination toward abbreviations is common knowledge, as just about every expressway, bank, Government body, school, college, commercial complex etc. eases into a coinage of truncated verbiage.
The colloquial speak eventually finds a way into it being ‘the brand name’. The latest entry into the Abridged Book of Convenience (ABC) being YOG – The ‘Youth Olympic Games’. One could argue that the official name is still the full form of it, however the fact that the commonly spoken and written depiction is YOG, would suggest otherwise. Now, when you probably have the greatest sporting event engrained in a ‘name’ i.e. ‘Olympic’, why should you strip the magnificence that it represents into a set of cold, hollow and meaningless letters. On the contrary, the meaning of the word ‘Olympic’ should have been heightened. This is not really about just abbreviating an institution, or about it being a Singaporean obsession. The larger question being- ‘Should convenient condensing of brand names arise without any apparent reason?’ Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Victor Company of Japan, International Business Machines Corporations, Bayerische Motoren Werke alias QANTAS, 3M, JVC, IBM, BMW respectively, had both reason and wisdom to rename themselves from descriptive, industrial institutes into initials that grew into multi-billion dollar brands. Heritage does have a role, and in my view a brand needs to earn an acronym and by that I mean GE and LG, having successfully built their equity have the license to be known by an initial should they so choose. Occasionally though, brand initials can run the risk of allowing for the world to hijack it into undesired territory based on their unfavourable actions for e.g. Beyond Petroleum (BP) and Government Motors (GM). A move to change into one could sacrifice its equity. Hence let Harley Davidson always be Harley Davidson. Some brands have had other reasons such as KFC -be it the Kentucky taxes or the implications of ‘Fried’ in a world getting healthier. Removing some baggage, bridging language barriers, changing an offering or renewing meaning from when the brand started to its current avatar can legitimize an acronym. Though, initializing an already existing acronym such as YMCA into Y, one could ask Y? I don’t personally dismiss acronyms but there are limits and at times it does rob the brand of potentially positive emotions and YOG being one such example. Keeping Mother Teresa Charitable Trust intact as against MTCT would be preferred. Today, when one is tasked of creating a fresh brand name it would be advisable to keep it simple, meaningful and acronym-proof. Some may not agree and say FCUK, whilst St. Thomas University of Public International Diplomacy might just concur.
Mohit Gopaldas is Managing Director, Identity Counsel Brand Consultants, judge for the ASME Awards and Speaker.
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