Via @RickM, I discovered a blog post about the YMCA's decision to rebrand itself "The Y" in recognition of how the organization is known by the public:
The Y is branding the non-profit from the eyes of their consumers for the first time, which is tactically a smart move. Some may see the shortening of the brand name as a result of blogs, but organizations tend to use acronyms or initialisms to replace full names, mainly because they’re easier to remember. (Think HP, SYSCO, 3M, GM, IBM, and BMW. I’d bet no one outside Sysco refers to the company as Systems and Service Company.)
Viewed from that perspective, Radio Shack's move to recast itself as "The Shack" seems particularly lame. Has anyone ever said, "I'm going down to the Shack to pick up speaker wire"? I don't think so. A new name won't make people forget how outdated your stores are or how lousy your customer service is. Remember GM's quickly aborted campaign to stop referring to Chevrolet as Chevy? Pittsburghers, remember when University of Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson decided he didn't want people to refer to the university as "Pitt" anymore?
The public had different ideas. I'm reminded of what my boss says -- Your brand is defined by how the outside world perceives you, not how you perceive yourself. Marketing and PR alone won't move the needle. You have to live your brand before you can talk about it.