Jones Lang LaSalle has joined the likes of PWC, KFC, NAB, BP and LG by shortening their brand name to ‘JLL’.
While the brand was always a bit of a mouthful, the new acronym is still clunky and it doesn’t feel like a name that people will warm to quickly.
This is not the first name change for the British real estate firm but it is the first time they are dropping their heritage for a short form moniker as their main brand name. Jones Lang LaSalle was created in 1999 when Jones Lang Wootton and Chicago’s LaSalle Partners.
In many ways, ‘JLL’ does make sense as another evolution of the brand but this is mostly from a functional sense.
Acronym names are often created when descriptive or names of provenance have lost their context, importance or are believed too cumbersome for the market. With JLL, it is more about simplifying the brand than distancing the brand from its heritage.
The potential advantage for ‘JLL’ is that the brand is simpler and more memorable, particularly for non-English speaking markets. However, acronyms can be notoriously difficult build clear brand differentiation and meaning, unless they are an existing brand short-form or nickname.
When it comes to the digital and social channels, there are also obvious benefits of simplifying the name to three letters. When economy of words and letters matters the most, Jones Lang LaSalle were already being abbreviated by others.
There is also a strong company belief that the name change will make it ‘easier to say in any language’ but I’m not convinced about this. The letter ‘J’ is a problematic letter for consistent pronunciation across many languages, even amongst European languages.
The combination of ‘J’ followed ‘L’ and ‘L’ is also not the easiest name to pronounce, even for most native English speakers. JLL doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue!
JLL already recognise that even in the USA they have challenges. JLL Chief Marketing Officer Charles Doyle recently commented, “When spoken too quickly with a Southern accent, ‘JLL’ sounds a little like jail”.
At least the new acronym is only three letters. If you have to abbreviate your brand name, less is more. Three letters is often the best balance of shortness with the ability to own the letters as a brand.
In the case of JLL, there are already several brands using ‘JL’, whereas they seem to have an opportunity to take ownership of ‘JLL’.
The new name has also been matched with a minor brand refresh but essentially the icon is the same, except the gradients and some tweaks to the typography.
What do you think of the new name and identity? Will it help JLL appeal to a broader global audience or are they giving up something that is potentially importantly for the brand’s differentiation?
Partner and Strategy Director