Thursday, July 02, 2009


Abbreviated Brand Names...a new trend?

Last week, I was asked by a CNN reporter to comment on whether the name change of the SciFi Channel to "Syfy" was the beginning of a trend toward shorter brand names. Here is how I replied:

There are many guidelines that provide a basis for what constitutes a good brand name. The most important is that it either has inherit meaning upon first seeing it or that you can infer what the brand stands for (usually by adding a constant theme and/or icon that is proprietary). Whether it is an "initialized" or "abbreviated" brand, it still must convey a thought or feeling that the person seeing it can connect with. Even better if that person has a particular need that the brand "connection" can fulfill. Now, in the case of KFC, it obviously was an established brand and the meaning was pretty clear. I believe that the reason for abbreviating the name was to not be "locked into" just a purveyor of fried chicken. The company wanted to branch out into ribs and other products such as roast chicken and the feeling was that the full name was too limiting for them to do that. It reminds me of the name change of Boston Chicken to Boston Market. The KFC brand was not so much a case as being "trendy" as is the case with Sify. Cable TV has been going this route in my opinion to be more trendy in keeping with today's IM and texting language. It's could be deemed as more modern, thus it grabs a younger person's attention. Will the trend continue? Probably. I cannot see a reason for it to stop. Yet, I would like to point out that abbreviated brands have been around forever. I go back to brands like BVDs, TWA, UPS, K-mart, the major tv networks, BP, HFC, GM and on and on. I guess you could say "Coke" could be called an abbreviated brand as well.

The main point here is that I do not think that the SciFi Channel will lost an ounce of equity by changing to Syfy. I think the name change is a reason to create new awareness to the brand. However, given their appeal to such a defined audience, I don't see many new people "entering their tent" as a result of this name change.

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