FTSE 100 fund management group abrdn has once again found itself on the receiving end of scrutiny over its recent rebrand, with respondents to an online poll calling it an “act of corporate insanity”.
According to a survey of 2,000 conducted by online comparison website Investing Reviews, abrdn was singled out as the worst investment brand in the UK. Respondents were asked to consider websites’ overall messaging, tone, imagery, strapline and the language used.
Around one in seven respondents to the poll said the abrdn website was the one they disliked the most, with 65% among them claiming the brand was “too bland”, while 55% thought it was “uninspiring”.
Criticism from respondents included comments that the April rebrand, which was led by brand agency Wolff Olins, was “ridiculous” and “an act of corporate insanity”. One respondent, who claimed to be a shareholder in the company, said it was “embarrassing”.
Abrdn was contacted for comment.
The firm has repeatedly defended its decision to drop the Standard Life Aberdeen moniker, claiming its new image is “modern” and “dynamic”.
When abrdn announced the name change, the firm said it was important to have one distinctive brand, rather than the five it previously operated, which included funds business Aberdeen Standard Investments, investment platforms Parmenion, Elevate and Wrap, 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.
Last month Stephen Bird, chief executive of abrdn, said he wasn’t surprised by the criticism the rebrand had received.
“The trolls probably were not our clients,” Bird told journalists on a call following the firm’s debut half results on 10 August, referring to widespread criticism that the new name received on social media.
“The clients we have talked to have fully embraced it.”
Other asset managers that came in for criticism in the online poll included Rathbones and Baillie Gifford, which were voted the second and third worst website brands respectively.
Respondents said the Rathbones website was too wordy, while the black theme adopted by Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford was called “sinister” and “creepy” by some respondents.
Meanwhile, Jupiter was criticised out for being “too woke” by 45% of the respondents who disliked its brand, with the sustainable investment messaging on its website considered to be “obvious virtue signalling”.
Rathbones was contacted for comment. Jupiter and Baillie Gifford declined to comment.
Simon Jones, chief executive of Investing Reviews, said: “Standard Life’s relaunch as abrdn has clearly hit all the wrong notes and should serve as a salutary lesson for financial platforms everywhere.
“With all the millions that the big beasts of finance spend on their digital operations, they would do well to remember that customers are far more interested in making returns on their investments than they are with lame PR stunts.”
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