B.A.R.E. (Bad Acronyms aRe Everywhere)

Why are so many people and organizations obsessed with acronyms? Especially acronyms that spell another word. From small nonprofits and churches to schools and large corporations, really bad acronyms are everywhere. 

NASA's Messenger Probe crashed into Mercury after a long and successful mission. And as I read CNN's account of the mission, I was stunned by the fifth paragraph:

Messenger (an acronym for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) was launched in 2004 and traveled more than 6½ years before it started circling Mercury on March 18, 2011.

Wait. So the Messenger probe is actually M.E.S.S.E.N.G.E.R.? Or is it Me.S.S.En.Ge.R.? 

NASA designed a space probe that is going to fly to a plant named after the messenger of the gods. And NASA feels like they need to construct some bogus acronym to justify the name "Messenger."

  Speaking of MESSENGER, check out this awesome shot of the sunlit side of Mercury.  B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.  Photo credit: NASA.

Speaking of MESSENGER, check out this awesome shot of the sunlit side of Mercury. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. Photo credit: NASA.

Acronyms are fine if they really help people remember and understand the program or product name. But in most cases, the acronym simply becomes a name and slowly loses all connection to the meaning. 

And the worse case scenario is that you are so obsessed with creating an acronym, that you select a poor name in the process. Avoid creating acronyms just to be clever or just to justify a name choice.

Your best bet is always to give products, organizations and programs strong, appropriate names.