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Acronym Logo Meanings that Will Surprise You

Amber Jacobs owner of Amber Design sitting on a yellow chair looking at a tablet device filled with acronym logos

Recognize any of these logos? Of course you do—they’re some of the most well-known brands in the world. Many of them are household names but what do they all have in common though?

They’re all logos for companies whose name is an acronym, and they’re all logos with the acronym as the logo monogram wordmark.

Now for another question: do you know what these acronyms stand for? KFC, BR, and VW are easy, but what about Fiat, CNN, ABC, IBM, H&M, or 3M? They’re all logos we see almost daily, but isn’t it interesting that most people don’t even know what many of them mean or stand for, and we only know a company by the acronym? Check out our top 35 logos in the list below and see if any of these surprise you. Let me know!

  1. KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken
    KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken Logo
  2. UPS - United Parcel Service
      UPS United Parcel Service logo
  3. PBS - Public Broadcasting Service
    pbs logo
  4. AFLAC - American Family Life Assurance Company  
  5. NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration  
    NASA logo 

  6. VAIO - Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer  
    VAIO logo
  7. HBO - Home Box Office
           HBO logo
  8. HP - Hewlett-Packard
              HP Logo
  9. EA - Electronic Arts
                  EA Logo
  10. BECU - Boeing Employee Credit Union
       BECU Logo
  11. ESPN - Entertainment and Sports Programming Network
    ESPN Logo
  12. NBC - National Broadcasting Company
     NBC Logo
  13. ABC - American Broadcasting Company
     ABC Logo
  14. CBS - Columbia Broadcasting System
     CBS Logo
  15. CNN - Cable News Network
      CNN Logo
  16. BMW - Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
      BMW Logo
  17. MAC - Make-up Art Cosmetics
     MAC Logo
  18. GEICO - Government Employees Insurance Company
    Geico Logo
  19. 3M - Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
    3M Logo
  20. EPCOT - Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow
    EPCOT logo
  21. AT&T - American Telephone and Telegraph Company   AT&T Logo
  22. CVS - Consumer Value Stores
     CVS Logo
  23. LG - Lucky-Goldstar
                LG logo
  24. ING - International Netherlands Group
        ING logo
  25. DSW - Designer Shoe Warehouse
      DSW Logo
  26. FIAT - Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino
      FIAT Logo
  27. M&Ms - Mars and Murrie's
    Mars and Murrie's M&Ms Acronym Logo             
  28. EOS - Evolution of Smooth
    Evolution of Smooth EOS Logo Acronym
  29. REI - Recreational Equipment, Inc
      REI Logo
  30. UBS - Union Bank of Switzerland
     UBS Logo
  31. IBM - International Business Machines
  32. e.l.f. - eyes, lips, face
    elf Logo Acronym
  33. PAM - Product of Arthur Meyerhoff
    PAM Acronym logo
  34. WWF - World Wildlife Fund
    WWF Logo
  35. YAHOO! - Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle   Yahoo Logo

Why did these goliath-sized companies go with an acronym for their name and logo to be remembered by? Why not just go by the full name? Sometimes companies with longer names, such as GE, or General Electric start out using their full name but later shorten it to the acronym after a period of time to either rebrand and refresh their business or to make it easier to remember and say. Furthermore, as businesses change, grow and develop, their full names may lose some meaning or no longer represent all of what the company does, so an acronym works better like GEICO or Aflac.

Fun fact: when GE enters a new market, it uses its logo only in its signature baby blue. Once awareness and recognition of the logo has been reached by about 50% in that market, GE starts using the monogram in any color.

General Electric GE Logo Acronym

Putting aside those more strategic and technical cases for updating a name to an acronym, there’s also the emotional side to consider, like what an acronym means to the people who see it. Companies like the ones on the list above have all reached a point where they are recognized easiest for their acronyms, so the full name or meaning behind it barely matters to the general public. We all know BMW as BMW, and seeing that emblem or hearing the letters evokes a certain response and feeling that “Bayerische Motoren Werke” (roughly translated to Bavarian Engine Works) just doesn’t quite do for us.

Some companies want to be known by their full name, but for the logo to have the acronym or elements of the letters in their name. Having a recognizable and well-designed logo for your acronym is a huge piece of how some of these big brands become and remain recognizable by their acronym alone.

As a graphic designer, I find it a fun challenge when I’m in the logo design process of a brand with an acronym style name and/or logo. Sketching out how the letters can fit together beautifully while also including other elements the client wants that connect to what they do is quite the process as you can see:

ABB Acronym Logo sketches in sketchbook

Acronym-based brand names can and obviously do work with the right combination of history, branding, and visibility. Are you a current or business owner considering an acronym-style name for your company or company rebrand? Hire me for help with all of your brand identity and logo design needs!

About the author

Amber Jacobs

I am a creative woman who has a passion for finding creative design solutions. I’ve worked in the industry for many years and have diverse experiences to help with every stage of the design and marketing process. Based in Seattle, I focus on coming up with creative and professional strategies and solutions for clients, and help them to connect with their audience in more effective ways. With a keen eye for detail and a creative mind, I offer the highest quality design and marketing services. I am also very passionate when it comes to connecting with people and trying new things. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or schedule your initial consultation today.