TIAA-CREF, why bother?

By Burt Alper

October 24, 2005

I’ve never been a big fan of initialisms that replace names, but TIAA-CREF really pushes me to the edge.

A part of me can understand why they made the move to the initials. Alphabet soup is one thing, but “Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund” is a whole dinner seating. However, if you’re going to make a change, don’t settle for the easy, almost-as-awkward solution. I cringe every time they spell the name on NPR.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the organization is now spending millions promoting this awkward brand. Someone, somewhere should have had the foresight to think about spending some cash upfront to change the brand before they started marketing it to the mainstream. I saw the letter string during a football game on CBS this weekend. Huh? Someone, please connect the dots for me.

Moral to this story? If you’re going to spend a bundle promiting something, spend a piece of that bundle improving what you have to promote.

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