Edinburgh-based asset management giant Standard Life Aberdeen plc announced on Monday its intention to change its name to “Abrdn plc” — a move that will come with a revised stock market ticker.
The firm said the new Abrdn name — which it said should be pronounced “Aberdeen” — will be part of a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand that will also be used for all the company’s client-facing businesses globally.”
Standard Life Aberdeen worked with the international brand consultancy Wolff Olins — part of Omnicom Group — to create the new brand.
The Edinburgh company said: “The new brand identity marks the next stage in the reshaping of the business and future-focused growth strategy.
“The company is focused on three interrelated growth vectors: global asset management (Investments), technology platforms for UK financial advisers and their customers (Adviser), and UK savings and wealth (Personal).
“The rebranding roll-out process for the new name and associated visual identity will begin in the summer and progress through 2021, alongside implementation of a full stakeholder engagement plan to manage the transition.”
The new brand follows an announcement in February that closed life and pension fund consolidator Phoenix Group, owner of the “old” Edinburgh-based Standard Life Assurance, would take ownership of the Standard Life brand from Standard Life Aberdeen and sell back to SLA some of the investment and platform-related products it previously bought.
Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Stephen Bird 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.”
A subsequent announcement will be made when the company’s name change becomes effective with a revised stock ticker.
This is expected to take place prior to the publication of the company’s half year results in August 2021.
Until such an announcement is made, trading will continue under the existing ticker.
No action is required on the part of any equity holders with respect to their rights as an equity holder.
Market reaction to the new brand was mixed.
AJ Bell analyst Laith Khalaf 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.
“The Standard Life Aberdeen brand has been in disarray ever since the merger in 2017.
“One gets the feeling no-one wanted to grasp the nettle of choosing between two brands with such heritage and pedigree.
“That seems to have been resolved by the recent sale of the Standard Life brand to Phoenix, clearing the decks for the new Abrdn branding.
“Fund performance is of course more important than branding, and Standard Life Aberdeen has some excellent funds, but you can’t help but feel they have just erected a barrier to investing that needn’t have been there.
“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.”