Ernst & Young, here is to hoping you can take a little joke about your new truncated name, EY:

We’ve written a lot about the potential hazards of brand truncation here, and when one of our talented guest bloggers brings this unfortunate story to our attention, we simply couldn’t resist spilling a little digital ink from our perspective.

According to Wikipedia: “‘Eh (/ˈ/ or /ˈɛ/) is a spoken interjection in English that is similar in meaning to ‘Excuse me,’ ‘Please repeat that’ or ‘huh?'”

EY, I think you catch my drift, eh?

As, Wikipedia also goes on to say: “It is also commonly used as a question tag, i.e., method for inciting a reply, as in ‘It’s nice here, eh?'”

The stated goal of the brand truncation is to “simplify” the Ernst & Young name: “Shortening our name will provide consistency and ease of use for EY practices and clients around the world.”

One of the common problems associated with truncation is the challenge of clearing a smaller version of the name and mark. So, it remains to be seen if moving from the two words, ten letters, and an ampersand in Ernst & Young, to two letters (that happen to be found at the end of lots of words, for example: blarney, baloney, malarkey, hokey, hooey, gooey, dicey, hey, they, obey, prey, money, honey, disobey, and attorney) will result in any trademark conflicts around the globe.

Ernst & Young has a fairly expansive intent-to-use federal trademark and service mark application for EY in multiple classes of goods and services, filed back in May 2013, so it hasn’t been examined yet. As it turns out though, further examination of the USPTO database reveals that Ernst & Young has been flirting with the EY truncation for some time, as evidenced by these prior federal registrations: (1) EY/GEMS, (2) EY/PASSPORT, (3) EY/AWS, (4) EY FINANCIAL PLANNER LINE, and (5) EY FINANCIAL PLANNING CENTER.

Perhaps these prior composite registered marks give Ernst & Young some added comfort that the path is clear for the truncation to EY. It will be interesting to see what dates of first use begin to populate the various classes of services in the pending intent-to-use application, as here in the U.S., it is permitted to submit dates of first use that end up pre-dating the filing date of an intent-to-use application.

Dear readers, any predictions on what will become of the more than two decade old logo, apparently a stylized EY, no less?

Will EY find a way to avoid trademark abandonment of this registered mark, or will it be comfortable relinquishing it to the public domain?

To the extent Ernst & Young has made a practice of branding gold watches or other jewelry as client gifts or retirement bling in the past, now it might need to reconsider.

Here’s a final question to ponder, would Ernst & Young have truncated to EY if .ey was, in fact, the real internet country code top level domain (ccTLD) for “Ekraysia” — or, does Goo.ey know something we don’t?

  • This seems like smart rebranding for an increasingly global, online, and mobile world. “EY” formats better for square icons like profile pics and mobile apps. It’s easier to quickly type EY on a touchscreen phone or tablet. It also works better in increasingly short communication tags like #EY, @EY[category], and I’d even argue that EY communicates just as much as “Ernst & Young” since anybody buying EY services is never going to meet Mr. Ernst or Mr. Young. Those name also don’t communicate a great deal in non-western speaking countries, where the foreign symbols “E” and “Y” are probably easier to say, write, read, and remember. And, with a registered trademark for EY, they can begin taking control of EY and more easily police its use on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. If EY stuck with Ernst & Young instead, a magazine like EY! would only get to EY first. Once that happens, EY would have a huge headache when its customers and followers desire to use #EY and look for the EY icon on their tablet screen. Considering all of these factors, I think the move to EY is well-timed and forward-thinking.