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Abrdn hits out at ‘corporate bullying’ over name change

Abrdn hits out at 'corporate bullying
Getty Getty
Abrdn hits out at 'corporate bullying
Getty Getty

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Abrdn hits out at ‘corporate bullying: The renaming of a long-standing investment firm to Abrdn has prompted an executive to accuse the media of “corporate bullying” during the process.

Formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen, the asset management firm changed its name three years ago to something shorter and without vowels. The media’s reaction to the adjustment was criticized by Chief Investment Officer Peter Branner, who compared it to bullying in the classroom.

In an interview with Financial News, Branner made the following comment: “I understand that corporate bullying to some extent is part of the game with the press, even though it’s a little childish to keep hammering the missing vowels in our name.” A message reading “Lv Abrdn aln” appeared in the Financial Times, and a front-page headline in City AM apologized for making fun of the “mssng vwls.” This prompted his statements.

With origins dating back to 1825, the renamed organization was formed in 2017 through the merging of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management. In 2021, the company decided to rename after selling its Standard Life brand to Phoenix Group and divesting itself of its UK and European life insurance unit.

Even though branding firm Wolff Olins was brought in to help with the transition, Abrdn has been the target of persistent sarcasm; some have even called it “irritable vowel syndrome.”

Branner compared this kind of approach to harassment and questioned its ethics. “How about if it were a person?” What would your attitude be like toward someone who constantly brings your name up in conversation? Apparently, it’s different with companies, but it’s probably not ethical to do it yourself, he said.

X, Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter, and Consignia, Royal Mail’s proposed transition in 2001, are also examples of controversial name changes that have drawn controversy.

A representative for Abrdn said, “As Peter made clear in his interview, we appreciate it is for the media to make their own assessments about the companies they wish to write about.”

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