What constitutes a nickname? Have you ever thought about it? The dictionary describes a nickname as “a name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person, place, etc., as in affection, ridicule, or familiarity”.

When I imagine a nickname, I think of a person I affectionately refer to. It could be as straightforward as Liz for Elizabeth, or something silly like Hunny Bunny for your significant other.

But nicknames are not only for people, they are for companies too.

General Motors made a mistake by telling its employees to never use the “Chevy” name again and to refer to the brand only as “Chevrolet.” Why the heck would they do that when nicknames help strengthen the brand!

People who use a brand’s nickname feel closer to the product than those who don’t. As a matter of fact, nicknames are one of the most under-utilized aspects of marketing. If at all possible, every brand should have a formal name as well as a nickname. A nickname is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

The Chevrolet owner who calls his or her car a “Chevy” is communicating some emotional connection with the brand (hopefully positive). Chevrolet is fortunate it has two names. Most automobile brands have only one. This is a valuable aspect of the Chevrolet brand.

How about these auto brands?

  • Ford – F
  • Toyota — Toy
  • Honda — Hon
  • Nissan — Nis
  • Dodge — D

None of these sound too good, do they?

Nickname killers.

Many companies are killing their nicknames by substituting them for their formal names. Here are a few examples:

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC
  • Computer Associates is now CA
  • Federal Express is now FedEx
  • Dunkin’ Donuts is now Dunkin’

Brands with nicknames have an advantage over the competition.  Check these out:

  • Let’s go to Mickey D’s.
  • How about a Jack & Coke?
  • Hop on my Harley and we’ll go for a spin.
  • Let’s take the Vette instead.

These nicknames are memorable, which helps to increase sales. So, how about coining a name for your business?

Want to talk more about branding for your company? Contact Marina Porcelli –


“nickname”, Oxford English Dictionary (online ed.), retrieved September 26, 2011