AdAge ended 2018 with its list of the worst rebrands of 2018. The unremarkable list included:
- XANDER – short for Alexander Graham Bell – AT&T’s advertising unit
- DUNKIN’ – abbreviation of DUNKIN’ DONUTS
- FIG – abbreviation of FIGLIULO & PARTNERS
- CAPRI HOLDINGS – new name for Michael Kors Holdings
- M/H VCCP – acronym for agency Muhtayzik Hoffer
- RTW RETAILWINDS – new name for New York & Co. Inc.
- REFINITIV – Blackstone’s financial and risk business
- KONTOOR BRANDS – VF Corp’s jean brands and outlet business
- VMLY&R – name of merged entity comprising VML and Y&R
- WW – acronym for Weight Watchers
- Tribune Publishing – reversal of acronym TRONC, which stood for TRIBUNE ONLINE CONTENT
About 64% of the rebrands on the list involve an acronym, nickname, or abbreviation. Generally, naming professionals will say that a name should be easy to read, say, and spell. You would think that an acronym, nickname, or abbreviation would check all the boxes for a good name, but as you can see that it not always the case and why working with a professional is important.
Whether you are moving to a similar acronym or an entirely new word or phrase, you will have to spend some significant money to educate the market about your new name. Distinctiveness is an important characteristic of any new name. In the naming context, distinctiveness lets you stand out from the crowd. And in the legal context, distinctiveness provides broader protectable rights.
Consideration of an abbreviation, nickname, or acronym is a must when assessing the similarity of the marks confusion factor. And to adopt an abbreviation, nickname, or acronym of the long form for an otherwise problematic mark is not an acceptable work around. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has held on more than one occasion that “the users of language have a universal habit of shortening full names – from haste or laziness or just economy of words.” In re Abcor Development Corp., 588 F.2d 811, 200 USPQ 215, 219 (C.C.P.A. 1978).