ICE Cars, Acronyms, and Organizations: Names Really Do Matter

The other day, I started doing some research for a vehicle purchase that I really do not want to make but I know is coming. To search through the local inventory of cars and trucks, I was prompted to choose between EV, PHV, HV, and ICE. I’m no car expert, but I immediately knew three of the four acronyms. “ICE” however, was new to me and to be honest, I was immediately annoyed by yet another fancy new term and mysterious acronym.

Turns out, it is not much of a mystery- ICE stands for internal combustion engine – which up until recently would be known as a car or truck that runs on gas. So, why the fancy new name and all the acronyms? Is it just marketing? Probably but there is a bit more to it. Names matter and getting them right is important.  

There is lots of research that points to the psychology associated with naming things. Naming something gives us a sense of understanding and even control over it. It also signifies value and importance. If you think about it, the more important something is to us, the more we name it, as in giving it many names. Just consider how many different terms you can think of for money or nicknames for family, friends and pets. Often these names have a ton of meaning (information) assigned to them. A dog with the nickname “Stinky” kind of says it all.  

In public safety, we do this all the time. We name stuff, we give it an acronym, we give it a nickname (not always flattering), and this helps us process lots of information quickly. The point is that we use names and acronyms as a way to process information. To access what we know, quickly organize what we are working with and then decide what to do with the information.

So, after a brief learning curve, I now know what ICE vehicles are, and comparing and contrasting them with other options has become a little more organized, a little quicker and a little easier. The new name allows me to differentiate between lots of different types of vehicles, instantly.  A fancy new name and acronym doesn’t change the quality or value of a vehicle, but it does, despite my initial annoyance, help me process information. It helps me decide where to focus my time, and ultimately make a better choice. 

At NCPI, we know that names matter. So much so, that after 25 years, we recently changed our own name to The National Center for Policing Innovation (NCPI) [click here for the full story]. With so many different resources, training options, and organizations in the world of public safety, we weren’t looking for a fancy new name or acronym. What we wanted was to help the public safety community in need of innovative and top-notch services find us. And, it has worked! Why?  Because we got it right. We are exactly what our name says – The National Center for Policing Innovation– and names really do matter.