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Why our awkward acronym has its benefits.

When I went to elementary school, I had a neighbor who's name was Peter Meier. I have no trouble adding his complete name here, because in no way this would ever jeopardize his privacy. Why? Peter and Meier are both some of the most common names in Germany. There's probably a few 10.000s of them around, so while ego-surfing is quite impossible, he's lucky, because he can virtually not be found on the internet.

Turning that notion the other way around, the fact the hard-to-pronounce, weird, not-to-be-written-in-full acronym name of our organization is quite unique (except in Italy, I'm told). Over and over again in the history of our organisation (last time during the rebranding in 2005) we've been considering changing our name into something that would be easier to memorize, easier to convey. We're not purely Children, we're not only international, where not just Summer and we're surely so much more than Villages. So why CISV? Just out of tradition?

Apart from the fact, that a new name would be terribly difficult to find and agree on, it would have to work in every language, and it has to be made sure, that no other company or organization is already using it. We'd also lose the marketing and awareness we've created in the past 60 years, and would have to run as "The Organization formerly known as CISV" (TOFKAC). Besides all that, I'd like to add another argument in favour of "CISV", and that is, that it perfectly unique* and searchable on the Internet:

Try a Google Search: The first result that doesn't link to us is on page 7:

Try a Twitter Search: Virtually no results that don't relate to our organization.

In the world of communication and modern media, searchability and search engine optimization (SEO), we're enjoying a competetive advantage. It should stay that way.

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That's a good point, and is very effective until my grandma starts talking about CSIV, CVSI, and CSI: Building Global Friendship.

Maybe we need to GoogleBomb those other acronyms ;-).

I agree with Martin.

I am a Civil Engineering student and all my courses are labeled CIVE. I'm also taking courses labeled CVSP.

Whenever my friends want to refer to CISV, they call it CIVE. Others call it CVSP. Very rarely they get it right from the first time...some still don't!

So it's a double edged sword :P

I agree with everything that has been said so far. However I don't think the problem with our name is that it is easily confused with others, or that it has been the acronym for Childrens International Summer Villages. To me, the issue with our name as it is right now, is that it doesn't mean anything. So everytime I have to explain what CISV is, they always ask me in the end, what does it stand for? And then I have to say that it used to stand for Childrens International Summer Villages, but now it doesn't anymore.
To me that is just as stupid as having a name that doesn't fit us anymore.

For the future, I am hoping that the new department and Denise will be able to build and create an even stronger and more powerful brand, so that we will be CISV just as other organizations are mentioned with their acronyms.

This is definitively a tricky question - I think we all agree that a four letter acronym is not easy to explain - but 60 years worth of goodwill is on the line, and finding a brand that the entire organisation - worldwide - will buy into is close to impossible. Large commercial corporations can put thousands of dollars into re-branding commercials - letting the world know the name changed. We don't have the money. Also - if the brand approved is controversial you might even find an organisation that revolts against its own brand... the path is full of mines.

Now say that we want to re-brand. We can go for a descriptive name (internal example: International People's Project) or an abstract nam e (internal example: Mosaic). Both have their problems - an abstract name will have to be both unique (Mosaic is a bad example - search google for Mosaic and start looking for CISV - you can search for a long time before we show up), as well as functional in all world countries. A descriptive name will have to be descriptive of all what we do - given that we don't really agree on what we want to do - another tricky one.

From a pure business case perspective - changing name is very likely to give us more costs - both human and pound-wise - than it will give us back. If we really have to change something then change the tag-line.

Put it on the shelf with other similar propositions - like moving the IO - and let us focus on growing our organisation and improve the quality of our programmes.

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