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The new name of financial services company Standard Life Aberdeen (now ‘abrdn’ – pronounced Aberdeen) gave the business pages a headline to fuss about this week. Whether you love it or hate it, the renaming signfies more than just a headline grabbing marketing spend.
Behind the new identity is a business formed when Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life merged in 2017. The business was actually trading as 5 different brands, from the two seperate companies.
Consider the amount of cultural artifacts that exist in your business associated with your brand name. The purpose or mission statement, the values, the proposition, the colour palette that shows up on everything from the reception-area cushions, to the language used in websites and stationary. Now multiply that by 5.
Those artifacts help signpost the culture map to navigate by when you are immersed in the brand – but paradoxically, also create divide through definition within the broader business when more than one brand co-habits. A divide that can fuel a slippery slope of business performance. Aberdeen Standard Life latest results showed a 17% drop in annual profits. Clearly a change is needed.
Chief Executive Stephen Bird seems determined to unify the brands – and create a new identity that supercedes the historical cultural artifacts and ways of working.
Whether ‘abrdn’ succeeds and the names sticks (like Aviva, previously Norwich Union) or gets consigned (like Consignia) to the business graveyard, will depend now on the complete and wholehearted embracing of name, and a clarity of the culture that it is determined to represent.