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Computer Associates Learns CA is a State!

Acronyms Don’t Work – Computer Associates Learns the Hard Way!

Five years ago, Computer Associates got tainted by a big accounting scandal and decided to vary its name to CA. Ooops! Try Googling CA and guess what you get? How about the State of California? Cocaine Anonymous? Repeat after me: Acronyms Don’t Work! Now, CA has seen the light and is rebranding again as CA Technologies = with a $200 million budget. Hard to imagine stakeholders are excited about this naming fiasco.

What’s the lesson here: Shortening your name to letters and creating alphabet soup is a recipe for disaster. Here are a few key reasons: 1. Acronyms are less memorable than real words 2. Sounds of letters are easily misheard (“did you say B or D?) 3. Letters don’t imbue any brand personality – they are as vanilla as, well, the alphabet! Want a complete discussion of naming missteps and secrets to success? See Chapter 3 entitled Name Dropping: How to Build a Brand That Sizzles in Red Fire Branding


American Family Life Assurance Co. catapulted its domestic name = recognition from approximately 2 percent in 1990 to approximately 80 percent now, = thanks to the famous AFLAC duck. The duck is so famous that even Ben Affleck, during an appearance on David Letterman’s show, starting making fun of = his own name! Keep in mind, however, that this acronym sizzles because the company turned the acronym into both a word and an enduring mascot.



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