To 'e' or not to 'e'? Standard Life Aberdeen changes name to 'Abrdn'

Standard Life Aberdeen is abandoning the letter "e" in phone-text fashion as part of a plan to modernise its brand.
Standard Life Aberdeen is abandoning the letter "e" in phone-text fashion as part of a plan to modernise its brand.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - One of Britain's largest fund managers Standard Life Aberdeen is planning to drop the vowels and change its name to Abrdn.

The move, which has prompted a string of jokes on social media, is not a late April Fools' Day prank but "part of a modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand" strategy.

Standard Life Aberdeen is abandoning the letter "e" in phone-text fashion as part of a plan to modernise its brand. The new name, unveiled on Monday (April 26), will still be pronounced "Aberdeen" and comes after the company sold its Standard Life brand to life insurer Phoenix earlier this year.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company said the name change would also allow it to own digital assets such as apps and websites, without confusion with the city of Aberdeen.

"Our new brand Abrdn builds on our heritage and is modern, dynamic and, most importantly, engaging," said chief executive Stephen Bird, who joined the firm last year.

"It is a highly-differentiated brand that will create unity across the business, replacing five different brand names."

The company, a sponsor of the Scottish Open golf tournament and Edinburgh International Festival, declined to disclose the amount spent on the rebrand, which was designed by agency Wolff Olins.

The Standard Life Aberdeen name change is the latest in a long line of corporate rebranding exercises, some of which have gone better than others.

Royal Mail changed its name to Consignia in 2001, for example, only to drop the rebrand the following year.

PwC briefly changed the name of its consulting arm to "Monday" in 2002, weeks before IBM then bought the business and dropped the name.

Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at fund platform AJ Bell, said the Abrdn name would "likely leave investors feeling dazed and confused".

"Don't be surprised if stakeholders ask for some vowels, please," he added.

Standard Life Aberdeen's shares jumped 2.5 per cent, though, outperforming the FTSE 100 .

Standard Life merged with Aberdeen-based Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017 and Phoenix bought Standard Life Aberdeen's European and UK insurance businesses the following year. Phoenix took on the Standard Life brand from Standard Life Aberdeen in Feb 2021 and sold back some of the businesses it bought in 2018, as the pair simplified their partnership.

The Abrdn rebranding process will begin in the summer with the aim of creating a "digitally-enabled brand that will also be used for all the company's client-facing businesses globally", Standard Life Aberdeen said.

There will be a "full stakeholder engagement plan" to manage the change, it added.