Drop the 'e': Standard Life Aberdeen ditches name for 'agile, digitally-enabled' Abrdn brand
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The Edinburgh-headquartered group recently said it planned to create new branding after the funds firm sealed a deal to sell the 196-year-old Standard Life brand to Phoenix Group.
Insurer Phoenix Group acquired Standard Life Assurance in 2018 and already has some 2,800 staff based in Scotland, the majority at its operational HQ in the capital.
Stephen Bird, the investment group’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.”
The new name – which the firm said should be pronounced “Aberdeen” – marks the “next stage in the reshaping of the business and future-focused growth strategy”. It comes as the group focuses on three key areas – global asset management, technology platforms for UK financial advisers and their customers, and UK savings and wealth.
The rebranding roll-out process for the new name and associated visual identity will begin in the summer and progress through 2021, the firm added.
Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “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.
“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.”
February’s deal with Phoenix followed market speculation and will see some 60 staff joining Phoenix at its operational headquarters in Edinburgh to support its marketing, distribution and data team functions.
The insurer said the new agreement “significantly simplifies” the firms’ strategic partnership, enabling Phoenix to control its own distribution, marketing and brands. At the same time Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) will have a stake of about 14 per cent in Phoenix.
As part of the original 2018 transaction, Phoenix paid Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) a total of just over £3.2 billion.
Under the February deal, Phoenix said it would receive £115 million in cash, ownership of the Standard Life brand, while the two firms will “resolve all legacy issues” in relation to the transitional services agreement entered into in connection with the acquisition. The value of the Standard Life brand was not disclosed.