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What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet…?

On a recent trip to Switzerland, Heino Schrader, our head of SAP University Alliances for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told me an amusing story. It seems that our marketing department had chosen an abbreviation for a new product name. Everything was in preparation for the launch – materials, literature, advertising, PR – and everyone was in agreement to go ahead.

One of our firm’s founders heard about this and quickly rejected the idea. It seems that the abbreviation had a negative meaning in English in a particluar context, and that context was quite evident in one critical line of business. A new abbreviation had to be chosen quickly and all documents had to be changed. 

Two things amused me about this story. One is that I am a native English speaker, and I would also have not recognized this potential issue. All of our founders are German. Even though they are highly intelligent and gifted people who also speak English with remarkable fluency, I am impressed that they understand our customers’ businesses so well – and we have dozens of lines of business that we cover. 

Now I am thinking, we chose the name SAP University Alliances Community. We feel that this is a proper brand to build on, not just for our relationships in higher education, but in providing a forum for connecting and collaborating with professors, students, customers, partners, SAP functional groups and SAP HR, and related associations like our User Groups. What about our ‘UAC’ acronym? Is there another, possibly amusing, interpretation for this abbreviation in use out there?

Finally, here is a little riddle. What do you suppose is the other thing that amused me about this story? Hint: that one of the founders of our firm was so concerned about the interpretation of an acronym.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hello Bob,
      hello all,
      a name, an acronym means nothing by itself but just what you associate in your mind. A good example is my name: Meyer and even Jürgen Meyer. There are more than 1000 people in Germany having this first name and surname in exactly the same spelling. And that’s why the name itself means nothing.
      But I understand what you are aiming at. Going to school I attended a secondary school named by the 1963 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Karl Ziegler whose independent institute was nearby. The “Karl Ziegler School” is abbreviated by KZ. Everyone knows what happened in holocaust in a Konzentrationslager where Jews and other were dreadfully humiliated and systematically killed with the intent of genocide. In our town everyone knows that holocaust meaning of KZ but when a youngster said “I’m attending KZ” nobody thinks of him being a Nazi murder.
      The name means nothing but just what you make out of it! And that is what comes up with the name or the acronym in peoples mind.
      (Just think of SAP – The abbreviation has almost no meaning but means something as there was made something out of it!)
      UAC is fine as it has no connotation as far as I see. This means on the other hand side also no positive to be associated with. But that will grow as times and events are linked to UAC. Let’s use the acronym to get it in our heads and to let a brand grow.
      Kind Regards JMy
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hello Juergen,

      Yes, your response is very insightful! I lived in Germany for ten years, but did not know this "KZ" abbreviation, so it had little impact on me to read it. But when I mentioned this to my wife, who is also an American but is the German teacher at an American high school and studied in Heidelberg and Freiburg, she had a very different reaction to hearing "KZ", because of her education in German history and cultural experience.
      SAP was, at first, an abbreviation of Systems - Applications - Products (the original German version sounds quite similar), but has long shed this connection in people's minds and developed it's own positive personality as SAP. And the founders did not seek to change the name, even though the word "sap" has some other meanings in English.
      The name "UAC" is fair game for us. I am very optimistic that we will develop a personality of collaboration and inclusion for UAC.

      Best Wishes, Bob