Preposterous 'Abrdn' rebrand is at risk of not sticking

Simon Read

Simon Read

Founder Colin Angus told the paper: “Ditch standard life and drop three E’s, indeed a most commendable notion.”

That’s the most positive quote I have been able to rustle up among a lot of negative reaction to the new name.

The FT itself, among many others, warned that the new name was “at risk of joining the category of brand changes that do not stick”, such as the short-lived rebrands of the Post Office – which disastrously became Consignia – and PwC Consulting, which laughably became Monday.

I guess one thing you could say is that such brand disasters live long in the memory, so I would like to raise a glass to design agency Wolff Olins, which was behind the Monday debacle that, if memory serves, hardly lasted until Tuesday.

PwC’s slogan to launch the Monday brand was: “Sharpen your pencil, iron your crispy white shirts, set the alarm clock, relish the challenge, listen, be fulfilled, make an impact, take a risk." I reckon the design agency that persuaded the business to publish such tosh deserves a thumping reward, or at least a kick up the proverbial.

Surprisingly, they are still up to their old tricks. Yes, Wolff Olins is the agency behind the Abrdn name. I bet their creatives relished the challenge.

Judging by the result, the conversation could have gone along the lines of: 'We need a new brand.' 'How about an anagram?' 'Great idea, the client will love it.'

I suspect they did not expect an anagram of ‘brand’, but then again, they probably loved that aspect of it. 

As an aside, I worked out that an anagram of Standard Life Aberdeen is 'learn brand is defeated'. I do not think I would last long at a design agency. But then finance and design are uncomfortable bedfellows.

I reckon most financial advisers want to be able to mention companies to clients that they recognise and feel reassured by. An investment company that generates the response 'pardon?' is not an easy sell.

Simon Read is a freelance journalist