What’s the deal? Why do accounting firms use initials instead of names?


With very rare exception, names work better than initials.

You’d think it’d be pretty obvious.  But accounting firms curiously LOVE their initials.
The problem is, initials don’t mean anything.

They’re gibberish. 

Which one is easiest to remember if you wanted to Google them tomorrow?  Here, try this:

Which of the “names” below grabs your attention?

Smith & Jones

It’s pretty obvious, right?

So why do so many smaller accounting firms choose to use their initials instead of their actual names?

Part of the problem is that the biggest accounting firms use their initials.  Think KPMG,  PwC, E&Y, BDO, BKD, RSM, UHY, CBIZ.   The thinking might be - “They’re big and successful.  They must know what they’re doing, so let’s do that too.”Initials logos LARGEST Accounting firms  copy

The only difference between you and them is, you know, the 150,000 additional professionals working to spread the brand worldwide.  Oh, and the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend every year in advertising and PGA sponsorships.

When you’re really prominent, you can call yourself whatever the heck you want with total impunity. Just look at [The artist formerly known as] Prince.

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re neither KPMG nor Prince.

So, unless you have a truly awful, impossible-to-spell or -pronounce firm name, use your firm’s street name.  That is, your first name or two – whatever your community most-typically calls you.  (Read more here.) Generating business is really hard, so why make your life even more difficult?

More importantly, it’s what Ries and Trout call “The No-Name Trap” in one of my favorite marketing books, “Positioning: The Battle for The Mind.”

Reid and Trout Initials The No-Name Trap

If your firm is thinking about rebranding with its initials, or you might possibly be persuaded to rethink a bad decision, immediately read Chapter 10 of Positioning

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ross Fishman, Fishman Marketing, Inc. | Attorney Advertising

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