Standard Life Aberdeen's plan to rebrand as Abrdn turns proud Scottish business into a laughing stock – John McLellan
Once the symbol of staid but reliable Edinburgh financial institutions, as solid as the Castle Rock, the rebranding of what was Standard Life as the widely mocked Abrdn has reduced a proud Scottish business to a national laughing stock.
Employing thousands of Edinburgh people but providing security for millions more, unassuming top brass like Scott Bell did not bask in limelight, and along with George Matthewson (Royal Bank), Brian Stewart (S&N), Peter Burt (Bank of Scotland) and Mike Ross (Scottish Widows), the city’s business life was dominated by people of substance who would never have entertained such nonsense.
Standard Life became Standard Life Aberdeen in 2017 when it was alloyed with Aberdeen Asset Management and is now to be known by a letter salad without the vowel dressing, which will give the company a “clarity of focus”, said chief executive Steve Clark, presumably with a straight face.
To borrow from lyricist Alan J Lerner, Mr Clark could have eaten alphabet soup and produced something equally as focused a couple of hours later in the Gents.
It’s too easy to dismiss such corporate gobbledygook as goods sold by traders of the finest bovine manure, but creative agencies like Wolff Olins which came up with Abrdn can also spot an emperor who enjoys naturism.
So if companies like Royal Mail (briefly Consignia, before it was consigned to the bin), Aviva (aka Norwich Union), Accenture (once Andersen Consulting), and Uvavu (ok, that was a nonsense word from the Shooting Stars game-show spoof) don’t swallow the cobra juice, they won’t try to flog it.