Capital Calls: When rebranding turns into Abrdn

Capital Calls: When rebranding turns into Abrdn

The offices of Standard Life Aberdeen in Saint Andrew Square Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain February 15, 2019.

Concise insights on global finance.


ABERDEEN ANGUISH. When a company is already called Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA.L), it’s hard to come up with a worse brand. So hats off to the 6 billion pound asset manager for belatedly following the “disemvoweling” trail blazed well over a decade ago by technology startups like Tumblr and Flickr as well as rock band MGMT. The UK group plans to rebadge itself as “Abrdn”.

One obvious problem: how is it pronounced? The company seems to assume clients will know it should be “Aberdeen”, but that implies the pseudo-cool and edgy new brand will need a clunky parenthesis saying so. Otherwise it could all too easily become something like “A burden”.

It all seems a distraction from Chief Executive Stephen Bird’s drive to focus the asset manager more on investment advice. Maybe that’s intentional: the former Citigroup (C.N) executive, who will presumably now be known as Stphn Brd, recently cut the dividend by nearly a third . The consolation for embarrassed employees is that it incentivises them to hit targets, thereby attracting suitors to launch a takeover – and another change of name. (By George Hay)

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