Abbreviations - more, including a staggeringly bad acronym

Last month's email mentioned how a firm got in a twist with its 'values' acronym – click here for that email. Today I look again at abbreviations and acronyms (acronyms are abbreviations that create words that we can pronounce as a word, e.g. NATO, ASCII, etc). 

Abbreviations help us remember stuff. Decades ago, I was told a receivership was HELP – Hold, Evaluate, Liquidate, Pay. And also decades ago, my father gave me two thoughts: (1) when giving a talk, remember ABC and XYZ - Always Be Cheerful; Xamine Your Zipper); (2) when selling a product, think QPR – Quality, Price, Reliability. (If you don't know UK footie teams, you might think: “Surely the alphabet goes PQR, not QPR?", but QPR is Queens Park Rangers, a West London footie team that languishes mid-table in the Championship.)

Time for the fun bit: two weeks ago, a firm sent me a letter that outlined changes to my account with them - it said: “There are a few key ‘asks’ to keep your account running smoothly and ‘INTACT’. We hope this acronym will serve as a useful reminder of what exactly they are” - words and letters in red are as they were in the firm's letter. Cue Figure 1 (complete with pointless icons).

Truly staggering. Deranged, even. The A of INTACT is the middle letter of one word, and CT are the last two letters of the last word… ?!? And anyway, what does 'Direct' mean? Thankfully, the letter explained with bullets (and here, bullets are fine, it's a list of brief items) – see Figure 2:

Hmmm. Take the first letter of each bullet, and the abbreviation is ESKN - Ensure, Stay, Keep, Notify.

Time for a challenge: use the words in Figure 1 to create a new abbreviation for the firm. I’ll kick things off with CRUD (invoiCes, cRedit, Updates, Direct). If you can think of any good ones, let me know.

Stay safe LET ('untiL nExt monTh').


P.S. Briefer, yes - but more concise..? Here’s a strange one…say the words: “World Wildlife Fund”. Four syllables. Now say: “WWF”. Seven syllables. The abbreviation has more syllables than the words they replace. (Also, ponder this - follow the 'INTACT' logic above, and WWF would be WODND...pronounced 'Wodnod', I guess. Just a thought.)

P.P.S. Update on this email: after sending it out, a person called Dan Farmer kindly told me of a belter from's Dec 2020 Service Principles 26-page brochure. At the bottom of page 17, it has an acronym created from 'Payments Originating Overseas'... Nice. (And the brochure's author knew what they were doing, it could easily have been Overseas Originated Payments.) 

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