Business Names Plagued By Nicknaming

Company names reduced to nicknames: that’s a naming trend I’d like to see stopped in its tracks.

I’ve ranted about this before, particularly about the now-absorbed Washington Mutual calling itself “Wa Mu”. Terrible idea. I don’t think their shortening of the business name caused their financial problems, but in hind site, it did demonstrate a lack of management constraint and focus. Anyway…

The newest demonstration of nicknaming just breaks my heart. The guilty party? The venerable National Geographic.

Now first let me acknowledge the name is not “large enough” for its charter, and never has been. But over time most constituents have come to know and accept the brand and what the name stands for without questioning “National” or “Geographic” as being inadequate, largely because they consistently maintained the society’s identity.

The National Geographic Society name and logo
The National Geographic Society name and logo

Everyone knows that year after year, month after month the magazine, with its National Geographic yellow and dramatic cover photograph, was (and still is) a great getaway and information source about our planet and its amazing diversity. With the introduction of the TV channel and a select catalog of travel/adventure products, National Geographic has admirably kept pace, and even more importantly, led the environmental movement.

Because of its associations and focus, the brand stands alone no matter what the name says in a literal “translation”. National Geographic is about great photos and writing, about the dangers to our planet, about exotic cultures, about adventure, and about innovative efforts to fund additional exploration and research. Yes, National Geographic is national treasure – no, make that a global treasure with a limiting name.

Never-the-less National Geographic STANDS FOR SOMETHING.

But now, probably influenced by the texting trend, they have seen fit to use a nickname on their National Geographic Channel website. It’s just terrible.

It’s Nat Geo.

Shame on you, National Geographic Society. Shame on you for violating your brand, for diluting your name, for alienating a core segment of your constituency.

Oh, and to make matters worse, on the National Geographic home page, they refer to themselves as “NG” upon occasion. NG? I know that as an abbreviation for “no good”!

Their tagline/mission statement is “Inspiring People to Care About the Planet”. National Geographic is inspiring, Nat Geo or NG not so much.

Perhaps it’s just my age that brings about a prejudice against the “newest thing”, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good branding.

I invite your take on this subject in the comments box further down this page.

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