Standard Life Aberdeen CEO defends name change to Abrdn amid Twitter disapproval

The chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen has defended the FTSE-listed asset manager’s decision to change its name to Abrdn following online criticism of its rebrand.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company announced the name change on 26 April, saying the new moniker will be “part of a modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand that will also be used for all the company’s client-facing businesses globally”.

However, the announcement sparked criticism on social media, with some Twitter users asking if the decision to remove the letter ‘e’ from its name was a late April Fool’s joke.

Speaking on Sky News, Stephen Bird said the asset manager had used brand consultancy Wolff Olins to come up with the new name.

READ Standard Life Aberdeen rebrands to Abrdn

“I can’t tell you the exact costs, but it was not a lot of money to develop the identity,” he told Ian King Live.

Bird said it was important for the asset manager to have one distinctive brand, rather than the five it currently operates, which include Aberdeen Standard Investments and financial planning and advice business 1825.

The asset manager announced in February that it had sold the Standard Life moniker to UK insurer Phoenix Group, which paved the way for a complete rebrand.

“When you are supporting one brand, every pound or dollar you spend will go much further,” Bird told Sky News.

READ Standard Life Aberdeen paves way for rebrand after fresh deal with Phoenix

“The spoken name of Aberdeen has been practised throughout the world for the past 40 years since the company was founded. The spoken name, Aberdeen, has high recognition.”

Some have taken to Twitter disapprove of the change.

Laith Khalaf, a financial analyst at online investment platform AJ Bell, said the name change 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,” said Khalaf.

“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,” Khalaf added.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts

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