Acronyms are infinitely useful as conversational and online shorthand, especially when working with unwieldy terms like search engine optimization. SEO is just so much easier to say and type. The problem with acronyms is that the original meaning can easily be lost, creating a significant communication problem, potentially ambiguous branding that can lead to a loss of revenue.

As a marketer, I find myself particularly sensitive to the art of branding. I’m often amazed by large companies with huge amounts of resource at their disposal that go on to launch a lukewarm, unfocused campaign.

Last week I bought a new Volkswagen CC. Know what the acronym means? No? Neither did the dealership sales representative. He told me to Google it. The acronym’s definition wasn’t even listed on the gorgeous saddle-stitched 4 color gloss brochure.

Frustrated, I called another dealership and learned that CC means comfort coupe. But I didn’t stop there. I emailed VW customer service and inquired into their secretive approach to acronyms. I received this reply:

“Here at Volkswagen, we would like to assure you that
it was not our intention to exclude the meaning for the
acronym CC. We apologize for any inconvenience this
may have caused.”

Fine, but wait, doesn’t coupe refer to a 2 door car? The CC has 4 doors.

You’d think that with all the time and energy VW put into the production of their new flagship, they could have at least taken the time to brand the thing in a way that didn’t cause confusion.

When you buy an orange, you don’t want an apple…I’m just praying that VW’s oversight stopped with the acronym, and that this car isn’t a lemon.

Got a bad branding example? Do share.