by Eli Altman

Over the weekend I was . Was it worth it? I doubt it.


2. Acronyms are the witness protection program of naming

A name is supposed to create some differentiation or draw some attention in a positive way. Acronyms are really more of a way to blend in and go unnoticed. Sure they can sound official, but there are plenty of other ways to sound official. Almost every law firm, medical device and military procedure has an acronym. If you do happen to have a new medical device, you should want to stand out, not fit in. What’s the point of picking a name that makes you one of the trees in the forest and then spending your whole marketing budget trying to stand out? If you’re not naming a law firm or medical device, why would you want your name to sound like one?


3. Pick good letters

Some acronyms you say and some you spell. When you see REI, you spell out Ar-EE-Eye, When you see FIAT, you say Fee-aht. If your acronym can stand alone and work by itself without a description line, there’s some hope. SAAB and FIAT are great examples of this. SAAB stands for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolag. While this might sound like a purring tiger in Swedish, it sounds like grinding gears in English. By using the acronym SAAB, they get to keep their history and most of their brand equity intact while having a name that most American second graders can pronounce. Not a bad idea if you plan on selling cars and planes outside of Stockholm. Of course, just because you can say it, doesn’t mean it sounds good. But having a pronounceable name is definitely a good place to start.


4. When life hands you lemons…

Sure, WTF stands for What the Fuck, but TFW stands for Tactical Fighter Wing. Acronyms are everywhere—that’s the world we live in. Personally, I think WTF was a blessing in disguise. Sure, it’s easy to play armchair quarterback on this one, but there was plenty of potential for WTF To Do In Wisconsin brochures and other ways to turn a perceived negative into a positive. It’s not like they had bad intentions with the name. More importantly, you can’t please everyone. If people were coming in and complaining about the name, I think they would have been better served coming up with a witty response than changing their name.

Oh well, the past is the past. I guess the next time I’m looking for a good bratwurst in Sheboygan, I’ll have to ask the TFW instead of the WTF.