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Standard Life: Abrdn’s rd-lttr dy

Digital rebranding rejects e-commerce at Standard Life.

Stephen Bird 2016-600
Stephen Bird, Standard Life Aberdeen

Stephen Bird, chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, or Abrdn as it is now to be known, has long been a digital evangelist.

Bird joined the asset manager last year from Citi, where he was chief executive of global consumer banking.

Speaking to Euromoney in 2017, Bird explained: “The journey to becoming a future-proof, truly digital bank is as much about transforming culture as it is about transforming underlying technology.”

He found this out the hard way last month.

Vowel play

Announcing the fund manager’s largely vowel-less rebrand to widespread incredulity and mirth, he insisted that the new name was a “modern, agile, digitally enabled brand”, as well as describing it as dynamic and engaging.

Most of the initial engagement involved checking the date of the announcement to make sure it was the end of April, rather than the very beginning.

Bird had engaged brand consultancy Wolff Olins to come up with the new name, the same agency that devised PwC’s ill-fated ‘Monday’ rebranding in 2002.

Perhaps the creatives are enjoying an in-joke on this one: Abrdn is, of course, an anagram of the word ‘brand’.


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