Today, Standard Life Aberdeen announced its intention to change its name to “Abrdn plc”. According to the company, its new Abrdn name (pronounced “Aberdeen”) “will be part of a modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand that will also be used for all the Company’s client-facing businesses globally”.
Standard Life Aberdeen says that its new brand identity marks the next stage in the reshaping of the business and future-focused growth strategy.
The Company is focused on three interrelated growth vectors: global asset management (Investments), technology platforms for UK financial advisers and their customers (Adviser), and UK savings and wealth (Personal).
The rebranding roll-out process for the new name and associated visual identity will begin in the summer and progress through 2021, alongside implementation of a full stakeholder engagement plan to manage the transition.
But the announcement has raised a few eyebrows across the industry, including those of Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell who comments on Standard Life Aberdeen’s rebrand as Abrdn:
“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 amongst 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. The fact Standard Life Aberdeen has actually had to explain how to pronounce the new name won’t be lost on financial advisers up and down the country, whose clients might well think they’ve punched a typo into a hastily written report.
“The Standard Life Aberdeen brand has been in disarray ever since the merger in 2017. One gets the feeling no-one wanted to grasp the nettle of choosing between two brands with such heritage and pedigree. That seems to have been resolved by the recent sale of the Standard Life brand to Phoenix, clearing the decks for the new Abrdn branding.
“Fund performance is of course more important than branding, and Standard Life Aberdeen has some excellent funds, but you can’t help but feel they have just erected a barrier to investing that needn’t have been there. While the Abrdn brand might be specifically designed for the digital world, it looks far from ideal for the real one. A full stakeholder engagement plan is promised and don’t be surprised if stakeholders ask for some vowels please, Carol.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Bird, Standard Life Aberdeen’s Chief Executive, said:
“Our new brand Abrdn builds on our heritage and is modern, dynamic and, most importantly, engaging for all of our client and customer channels. It is a highly-differentiated brand that will create unity across the business, replacing five different brand names that have each been operating independently. Our new name reflects the clarity of focus that the leadership team are bringing to the business as we seek to deliver sustainable growth.”
‘Highly differentiated’ it certainly is – whether it gains favour with investors and the UK market only time will tell.