Abbreviations can make things longer

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Everything Everywhere is the name for the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile, but that’s about to change. It’s going to become EE, following other companies in ditching words in favour of letters. PricewaterhouseCoopers would rather you thought of it as PwC and Marks & Spencer is slowly moving to become M&S. Even BT hasn’t been British Telecom for more than 20 years, but I’m sure some people still think of it as that.

Unlike EE, the abbreviations for those other companies were all being used by their customers and the media before they were adopted. Everything Everywhere is so new that barely anyone knows what it is and it’ll be gone before they can learn. So EE (can you say it?) will be a terrible abbreviation for what many people have criticised as a terrible name, hence the rebranding.

At Clarity we often see writing in which abbreviations are used thoughtlessly. Unless you’re certain your audience will know what you mean, you should always give the full name when you first mention it and put the abbreviation in brackets afterwards, for example “The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy was written by …”

Like Aviva (formerly Norwich Union) before it, EE can expect to be followed by its former name in explanatory brackets for a while at least. Or maybe the even more awkward construction: “EE (formerly Everything Everywhere, the company formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile)”. Awkward and annoying. No wonder Prince went back to his old name.

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