Think Twice Before Using an Acronym for a Name

FacebookLinkedInTwitter

2000px-Flag_of_Ireland.svgDeposit Interest Retention Tax – that’s what the Irish government formally named the tax levied on interest earned in bank accounts. In practice, the government and its taxpayers call it DIRT.

It must be somewhat satisfying for Irish citizens to get to pass judgment on the tax every time they invoke its name, but somehow we don’t think catharsis was what the Revenue Commission had in mind when they came up with this doozy. Rather, we think it’s a case of monumentally bad naming.

Presumably the Irish Government would like people to see paying tax as their contribution to civil society rather than a forced financial bloodletting. DIRT doesn’t quite accomplish this goal. Fortunately for the government, the tax is deducted from the interest earnings at the source, by the banks themselves, and paid directly to the Revenue Commission.

In future, maybe the Irish can take a cue from the USA PATRIOT Act. Didn’t know it was an acronym? Indeed, its full formal name is the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. (in truth, it’s probably a backronym)

More commonly known as the Patriot Act, the name is good precisely because very few people know the acronym – they think of it simply as a name.  And that’s the standard that makes or breaks an acronym as a name – whether it can stand on its own, independent of its constituent parts.

PATRIOT Act? Gives us the chills.

DIRT? Not so much.

Thinking of an acronym to name your organization, product, service or piece of legislation? Think more along the lines of DART, DREAM Act or Captcha, and less along the lines of SUX or ASTAG.

Corporate Culture
Black Friday = Good Marketing for REI

The major outdoor sporting goods brand REI made a somewhat strange announcement this week: they will be closed for the unofficial annual American celebration of consumerism on Black Friday.

Learn More
Brand Strategy, Social Media, Strategic Branding
Kiwis, Sheep and Ferns: A Pastiche of National Clichés Battle to Become New Zealand’s Flag 2.0

There’s an emerging trend to replace Procrustean national symbols with more sparkly versions of the same by means of a popular vote.

Learn More
Brand Strategy
Please Don’t Make Me Talk to People: What is Fueling the Services to Get Us to Talk to Each Other Less?

Everywhere you look, there seems to be a new product or service designed to get people to talk to each other less.

Learn More
Culture, industry
How Are We Supposed to Make Money on the Internet Now?

For most, the release of Apple’s iOS9 was a welcome development.

Learn More

Ready to talk about how your brand and culture can do more for your business?

Let's talk