When I was in high school my friend and I were watching a PGA Tour event on TV one afternoon. It was The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
As we sat there watching one of us asked the question, “So does TPC stand for The Players Championship or The Players Course?”
We really didn’t know. And we were pretty hardcore golfers and golf fans. It was one of the most popular tournaments on the PGA Tour and had been around for 20 years. But the branding around the event and the course was confusing.
TPC vs. TPC
So then we started really thinking about the question. He was pretty sure it was The Players Championship. Then I started getting on the idea that it was about the course. I mean, why would they put “TPC” in the name of the course?
And now that I think about it, the argument could have been the other way around. I might have been in favor of it meaning the tournament and he for the course. You know how those things go and how our memories change after 20 years.
I think in the end we figured we were both right. And that seems to be the way it is now.
TPC Sawgrass seems to be part of a chain of golf courses developed by the PGA Tour. The TPC in the name of each course stands for Tournament Players Club. And they have special rates and availability for tournament players at various levels of tours associated with the PGA Tour. For example, if you’re a player on a tour you get free access to any TPC practice facility from what I understand.
I don’t think I’ve seen The Players Championship ever called just “TPC”. It seems to always refer to a course. But that’s a bit weird too since TPC could mean Tournament Players Course instead of Club.
The Tricky Thing About Branding
One takeaway I have with all of this is that sometimes it’s possible to have too many brands or brand names. Not to pick on the PGA Tour, but they seem to run into this every once in awhile.
There was another story from a few years ago where they had just launched their subscription streaming service, PGA Tour Live. Then shortly after that they launched a new tagline that was, Live Under Par. At a meeting one of the players on the Tour was reported to have asked the question, “So what is this PGA Tour Live Under Par thing?”
Same word. Different pronunciations. Different meanings. Different parts of the Tour.
It was just confusing.
The PGA Tour is a strong brand. People recognize that name. They know what it means. There are other tours associated with it as kind of minor league tours. But the PGA Tour is widely known and people seem to understand what it is.
Would it be easier if they did away with the whole “TPC” thing and called it PGA Tour Championship at Sawgrass? Maybe not. TPC is pretty widely known now. I can kind of see the dilemma the Tour faces. After all, it was an entity that was kind of segmented off the PGA, which is oddly another golf association that isn’t really associated with the PGA Tour.
I’ve seen this happen in other businesses in lots of industries. I think the best advice I’d ever seen or heard about was when I was sitting in on a naming meeting for a new brand several years ago. A consultant spoke up and basically said that the goal of name was to pick something that wouldn’t like offend anybody. And that was easy enough to pronounce and spell. Then stick with it and keep it simple and over time the actual business would come to define the brand.
That’s important. The name doesn’t define the brand. It’s the other way around.
Sometimes I’ll get asked if a business should name their blog. Not after their business, but something totally different and unique. It can work. But it brings in the opportunity for confusion. Just like with the PGA Tour.
Sometimes less is more when it comes to brands and names and taglines.