Alphabet Soup – Acronyms in Design

175+ Acronyms Learned from 10yrs in the Design Business

One of the cooler things about working in the design industry is the amount of exposure you get to other kinds of businesses and thinking. Not many other industries afford such a window into different business practices, dynamics and broad access to the people who run those businesses. We are continually learning, and in using design to solve for x we endeavor to really understand a business, and with it comes an alphabet soup of acronyms.

After 10+ years of helping companies to (re)shape their identity and/or their package design systems we thought it would be fun to make a list of all the different acronyms that we’ve been exposed to across different industries.

From consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to industrial business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers and suppliers to software as a service (SaaS) providers to the private equity (PE) groups or investment companies that support them and a few others in between, here’s a good list to test your knowledge.

Ever changing & growing

In no way is this meant to be an exhaustive list, but it might stoke a giggle or a groan, or shed light on a business or design acronym that you’ve always wondered about.

(BTW, this list is forever growing, as we constantly learn new things or possibly overlooked something so we’ll try to update this list on a semi-regular basis). Giddy up.

Acronyms in Design


1D-10T – ‘idiot’, pronounced eye-dee-ten-tee; tech joke, barb
4c  – Four Color
A&U – Attitude & Usage
ABC – Always Be Closing (Sales)
ABM – Account Based Marketing (growth strategy)
ACB – Actual Customer Behavior
ACV – All-Commodity Volume (retail metric that measures annual sales of everything sold in a store)
ACV – Annual Contact Value
AGRI – Agriculture
AI – Adobe illustrator files
AIGA – American Institute of Graphic Arts
AMZ – Amazon
ANSI – American National Standards Institute
AQ – Aqueous Coating; clear coating applied after the inks to help protect the packaging
AR – Augmented Reality
ASP – Average Selling Price


B Corp – Benefit Corporation, a for-profit corporate entity (see B Lab)
B2B – Business to Business
B2C – Business to Consumer
BASES – Booz-Allen Sales Estimating System
BOH – Back of House; restaurant industry term for areas of the business that guests don’t see (eg. kitchen, office, storage, etc..).
BR – Bounce Rate
BX – Brand Experience
C&D – Cease & Desist (formal, legal request to/from someone to stop doing something; e.g. infringing on a trademark)
C1S – Coated One-Side
C2S – Coated Two-Sides
CAC – Customer Acquisition Costs
CAPEX – (or CapEx) Capital Expenditure; funds used to acquire, upgrade fixed assets.
CBA – Cost Benefit Analysis
CDA – Confidential Disclosure Agreement (aka. NDA)
CE – Consumer Electronics
CF – Cash Flow
CI – Competitive Intelligence
CLR – Customer Lifetime Value
CMS – Content Management System
CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black)
COB – Close of Business (5pm)
COGS – Cost of Goods Sold
CPG – Consumer Packaged Goods
CPI – Cost Per Interview (consumer research term for the average cost for each completed interview or survey)
CPM – Cost Per Thousand (M=1,000)
CPU – Cost Per Unit
CR – Conversion rate
CRM – Customer Relationship Management
CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization
CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility
CTA – Call to Action
CTR – Click through Rate
CX – Customer Experience
CYAP – Cover Your Ass with Paper


DFX – Design For X
DILO – Day In the Life of
DL – Dieline
DM – Direct Mail or Direct Message
DMI – Design Management Institute
DP – Digital Press
DPI – Dots Per Inch
DTC – Direct to Consumer (sometimes D2C)
EDI – Electronic Data Integration
EDLP – Everyday Low Price (Walmart term)
EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation & Amortization; an indicator of financial performance
EG – Extended Gamut (Color)
EOD – End of Day
EOL – End of Life
EOM – End of Month
EOW – End of Week
EPS – Encapsulated Postscript—image format file that may include vectors, bitmap images, or text for editing.
ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival
EULA – End User License Agreement
EZO – Easy Opening


FAB – Features Advantages Benefits (Sales)
FB – Features, Benefits
FIFO – First-In, First-Out
FMCG – Fast-Moving Consumer Goods
FMoT – First Moment of Truth (P&G term for 3-5sec window when consumers notice a package on-shelf)
FOB – Free On Board; shipping term for who owns & pays for goods when in transit
FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
FOP – Front of Pack; food labeling, otherwise known as the ‘face panel’
FPO – For Position Only
FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
FTP – File Transfer Protocol
FUBAR – (a military term) Fucked/Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition (or Repair)
FY – Fiscal Year
FYI – For Your Information
GA – Google Analytics
GCR – Gray Component Replacing
GDD – Growth Driven Design (web)
GF – Gluten Free
GIF – Graphic Interchange Format—Small and simple graphics, may include animation or transparency for use on the web.
GMO – Genetically Modified Organism
GP – General Population
GSM – Grams per Square Meter (paper weight / thickness)


HEX – 6 Digit Code that represents a color.
HTML – Hypertext Markup Language
ID – Identity
IDI – In-Depth Interviews; consumer research methodology
IHUT – In-Home User Test; consumer research methodology
IP – Intellectual Property
IR – Incidence Rate; in consumer research, the % of general population that qualifies for study
IRI – Information Resources, Inc (a leading provider of data & insights in the CPG industry)
IRL – In Real Life
ISO – The International Organization for Standardization
JIT – Just In Time inventory system (aka. Toyota Production System or TPS; creators of system); strategy that minimizes inventory for increased efficiencies, requiring very accurate forecasting & supply chain.
JPEG / JPG – Joint Photographic Experts Group—typically a raster image
JVs – Joint Ventures
K – Kosher
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
KL – Keyline
KO – Knockout (printing)
KPI – Key Performance Indicators
LPI – Lines per inch
LSP – Language Service Provider (translation services)
MRR – Monthly Recurring Revenue(s)
MSA – Master Service Agreement
MVP – Minimum Viable Product
OOO – Out Of Office
OpEx – Operating Expenses


NDA – Non-Disclosure Agreement (aka. Confidentiality Agreement)
NFP – Nutrition Facts Panel
Non-GMO Project – Non-Genetically Modified Organism (certification)
NPS – Net Promoter Score; customer satisfaction measurement tool
OAAA – Outdoor Advertising Association of America
OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer
OPS (Ops) – Operations
P&L – Profit & Loss statement
PDF – Portable Document File
PDQ – Pretty Darn Quick
PE – Private Equity
PEBKAC – Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair (tech joke & alternative way of saying ‘user error’)
PMS – Pantone Matching System
PNG – Portable Network Graphics—used only on the web, small graphics that maintain integrity and include transparency.
POC – Point of Contact (designated person to communicate with at a company)
POP – Point of Purchase
POS – Point of Sale
POV – Point of View
PPI – Pixels per inch
PR – Page Rank
PR – Public Relations
PRS – Perception Research Services (consumer testing co; eye-tracking research methodology)
PSD – Photoshop Design Files
PX – Pixel Unit


RFI – Request for Information (often precedes an RFP)
RFP – Request for Proposal
RGB  – Red Green Blue
ROI – Return on Investment
ROM – Rest of Market (retail benchmarking term that factors size of market & retailer performance within it)
ROYGBIV – Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet
RTE – Ready To Eat
RTW – Ready To Wear
RTB – Reason To Believe
SaaS – Software as a Service
SBU – Strategic Business Unit
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SFI – Sustainable Forestry Initiative
SIF – Supplier Information Form
SKU – Stock Keeping Unit
SM – Social Media
SME – Subject Matter Expert
SMM – Social Media Marketing
SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up (quirky old-school sarcastic saying)
SOAR – Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results; analysis tool & strategic planning method.
SOHO – Small Office Home Office (consumer segmentation/classification)
SOP – Standard Operating Procedure
SOV – Share of Voice
SOW – Scope of Work
SSCC – Serial Shipping Container Code – (used to identify a logistic unit; e.g. use on pallets or case packs)
SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats; assessment tool.


T&C – Terms & Conditions
TAM – Total Addressable Market
TDP – Total Distribution Points
TIFF – Tagged Image File Format (for editable images and storage)
TIMTOWTDI – There Is More Than One Way To Do It (programming motto)
™ – Trademark
TO – Turnover or Inventory turns
TTB – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau
UI – User Interface
UL – Underwriters Laboratories
UPC – Universal Product Code
USDA – United States Department of Agriculture
USP – Unique Selling Proposition
UX – User Experience
V – Vegan / Vegetarian
VC – Venture Capital
VDP – Variable Data Printing
VOC – Voice Of Customer
VPN – Virtual Private Network
WFM – Whole Foods Market
WOM – Word Of Mouth
YOY – Year Over Year
YTD – Year to Date 

Have any you want to add to our list? Contact us here and let us know!


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