Aviva makes a laughing-stock of itself

April 30, 2009


A real case for name change

A real case for name change

When it comes to media-stoked ridicule, there’s nothing quite like a corporate rebranding exercise. Who could forget the spendthrift waste that was the BT piper? Or the grotesquely expensive if temporary transformation of the Post Office plc into Consignia?

Aviva, formerly Norwich Union, is proving no different. £80m and several years later we have irate shareholders berating the Aviva board over  Ringo Starr and Bruce Willis being such a waste of space. I must say I have some sympathy. Couldn’t they have chosen some slightly more interesting examples of necessary name changes in the ads, such as Archibald Leach into Cary Grant and Marion Morrison into John Wayne?

But that’s an aside. As a global company harbouring a rag bag of national names, the case for a corporate rebranding at Aviva was overwhelming. It’s just such a pity they ended up with a bland Latinism that sounds more like a brand of fish aquarium than a serious financial institution.

Now Norwich Union, there was a name to conjure with. When Lord Sharman, chairman of Aviva, defended the rebranding he claimed that the insurer’s brand awareness had grown from 35% to 80%. Only if you count in countries that had never heard of Norwich Union in the first place, I suspect.

Postscript: Is Lloyds going the same way as Aviva? It has already started a cull of HBOS brands by putting Clerical Medical on death row.

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