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Choking On Alphabet Soup

by Doug Davidoff | Jun 6, 2006 11:49:15 AM

I know I'm not the first to say this: I hate companies that use initials.

I don't know what it is, but most businesses seem to love acronyms. Everywhere I go I see people shortening everything to initials. I guess it's a symptom of our 'fast culture.' Or maybe it’s just a hangover from the glory days of military jargon that introduced “RADAR,” “SCUBA” and “AWOL” into the lexicon. But these days, business people seem to fall back on acronyms more and more while communicating less and less. Show me somebody who uses an acronym to communicate a concept, and I’ll show you someone who probably didn’t take the time or have the creativity to simplify a complex idea. In a world where genuine, relevant conversations are what create value when a business speaks to its audience, this addiction to “alphabet soup” obscures meaning, causes confusion and reduces trust.

Today, I was at a business conference for financial advisors. During one marketing presentation, the speakers talked about the need to be unique, to stand out and to appeal to emotions - all valid points. Then they went on to talk about all the 'tools' they had to make it possible. I lost track of the number of acronyms they used, including one - RIP.

Now, you may be asking, “Hey Doug, what about IBM or ATT?" To that I say, ATT went out of business and IBM, at best, is the exception that proves the rule.

Forget the initials. Drop the acronyms. Instead, take the time to clarify complex ideas. Help your clients and prospects understand what you’re saying, instead of making them work to understand you. Talk to them like they are genuine people, then you'll really stand out.