JCP or Penney’s: Abbreviation for a new vision

Here in the NCR (National Capital Region), i.e. DC, where my company (TMP) handles many government clients, almost all of whom have a plethora of abbreviations, it may not be cogent for me to discuss this hot topic. Years ago we tried to persuade our clients that abbreviations weren’t memorable compared to common names. In fact, we helped get BCS to take advantage of the fact that “Boeing Computer Services” let them leverage a household name. But over the years, the convenient shorthand of letters has become more and more of an initiatory language that shows that you understand the client.

While that may be positive (don’t many of us like shortened nicknames, e.g. people call me EP or E), positioning thought leader Al Ries in his column in this week’s Ad Age pointed out that the new JCPenney’s logo may not be as strong as the shorter form that people already use: Penney’s.  The other side of the story is that the new CEO Ron Johnson, formerly head of retail for Apple and inventor with Steve Jobs of the Apple store, is re-imaginging this venerable department store (and perhaps department stores in general). He has created a three-tied “Fair and Square” pricing that makes sense of discounting. He’s also changing the shopping experience away from endless racks to themed centers like Main Street and Town Square. He even inadvertently ignited a diversity and inclusion issue by appointing Ellen DeGeneres as spokesperson.

Johnson sees the flag-inspired logo as reflecting his vision for the chain as appealing to all Americans regardless of the seeming divisions of class and age (diversity and inclusion again). He also sees it as part of his effort to encourage people to frame (honor? take care of?) the things they love. Sounds like talk? Well, Johnson has proven he can walk the walk. Along with the late Steve Jobs, he pioneered the Apple Store’s “try before you buy,” creating a shopping experience that now brings $40 million to each store annually. (Count that against the square feet.) To find out more about how Johnson is re-imagining shopping, see his December interview at HBR (uh, that’s Harvard Business Review).

P.S. Do you know what TMP stands for? 

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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