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What's in a name?

IT HAS TAKEN more than a year for Edexcel employees to start using the name of their new organisation rather than the one they worked for before merger in April 1996.

Among customers in schools and colleges, the transition may take longer. "I'm not sure we have fully won the battle to explain what Edexcel stands for, " admitted Gordon Tempest-Hay, the head of corporate affairs. "But people are increasingly calling us Edexcel rather than BTEC or London Exams."

Choosing a name (and a new logo, of course) is a crucial moment for any new body. One of Edexcel's problems was that the name was carefully crafted from the grand concept of "educational excellence" and making no reference to the better-known partners that formed it. Which is one reason why it incorporated the logos of its constituent bodies (BTEC and London) into an additional logo (right) on its literature. At least the new name will give some relief to Scrabble players, struggling with odd letters towards the end of a game.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance should not be confused with a new government quango. Plans to use the second letter of the word "qualifications" to form the acronym AQUA were dropped in case people considered it too contrived - or too much like a national training body for deep-sea divers. Both AQA and OCR, which sounds like a local radio station, were the results of lengthy talks involving marketing groups, design agencies and the obligatory focus groups. Employers apparently told the creators of AQA that they found the word "board" a complete turn-off, while "foundation" was dismissed by teachers because of its connection with spurious fundraising charities in the United States.

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