A global finance company has been brutally mocked for replacing its centuries old brand with a new name removing almost all the vowels.
One of the UK’s biggest finance companies has been brutally mocked after it introduced a new brand that critics have said resembles a typo.
“Is this a wind up?” said one person in response to the new brand which has taken a recognisable and grammatically correct name first used almost 200 years ago and removed all but one of the vowels.
The firm has insisted the name is “modern” but others have said it just looks like teenagers texting and is unbecoming of a company handling people’s hard earned cash.
Edinburgh based Standard Life Aberdeen is a global life assurance and financial services company with a market capitalisation of 8 billion pounds (A$15bn).
The company’s history goes back to 1825 when the Standard Life Assurance Company was formed. In 2017, it merged with Aberdeen Asset Management to form Standard Life Aberdeen which is now the third largest company based in Scotland.
But after hiving off the Standard Life name to another company in 2018, the group has been looking for a new brand.
The name settled on has raised eyebrows.
From later this year, Standard Life Aberdeen will become “Abrdn”.
Company says name is “modern” and “agile”
The company said it was a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand”.
“Our new name reflects the clarity of focus that the leadership team are bringing to the business as we seek to deliver sustainable growth,” the firm’s chief executive officer Stephen Bird said.
But the name is arguably not that clear if you also have to advise how to say it. Abrdn, the company has said, is pronounced: “Aberdeen” like the British city which is spelled with three more letters, all of them vowels.
Somewhat implausibly, the company has said only the “brdn” part of the new brand is derived from the Aberdeen name, with the “a” taken from the third letter of Standard Life.
All of Standard Life Aberdeen’s products and services will take on the tongue twister new name.
“Surely a joke”
The brand change has been ridiculed on the company’s own Twitter account.
“Surely a joke,” said one person, while another said it was simply a “dumb decision”.
“Of course nothing says ‘modern, digitally-enabled brand’ like leaving out all the ‘e’s,” was one reply.
“I particularly like how they took the A from Standard Life to make them feel included. Because there wasn‘t an A in Aberdeen they could have used…” was one post.
Another said: “Who wants their finances managed by a company where decisions are apparently made by teenagers using text-speak?”
One person wondered how the company’s staff would cope with their spell check constantly trying to correct Abrdn to Aberdeen.
There was a suggestion that Abrdn was actually pronounced “a burden”.
Even chocolate brand Snickers got in on the act with its UK account tweeting “Next time you want to remove a vowel, have a Snckrs”.
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Talking to the BBC, financial analyst Laith Khalaf said the brand resembled a typo.
“Standard Life Aberdeen needed to sort out its branding, but the new Abrdn name will likely leave investors feeling dazed and confused.
“Investors need simple fund names that are recognisable among the thousands of investments out there, and having a brand name you can actually say, even if it‘s only in your head, is a big help,” he said.
Why companies rebrand to weird names
Head-scratchingly confusing names are often chosen by large firms as they can be distinctive and also trademarked. But that doesn’t necessarily make them good names.
Another venerable British insurer Norwich Union became Aviva in 2008 to make the company sound more international. That’s despite other insurers, like Zurich and Allianz, being more than happy to continue to use names internationally that are rooted in their home countries.
In 2012, Kraft Foods demerged its snack arm, that makes Cadbury chocolate and Oreo biscuits, and called it Mondelez which is supposed to evoke images of the world and deliciousness.
Some rebrandings have massively backfired. In 2001, Britain’s Post Office Group, better known as Royal Mail, renamed itself “Consignia” which it imagined – shorn of the term “Royal” – would be more acceptable overseas. After an outcry, the name was changed back less than a year and a half later.