You can only estimate the value of a brand that has lived through four centuries, so at what cost is a name-change from one established more than 200 years ago, to another born this decade?
It’s happening now with UK insurance company, Norwich Union, established in 1797.
In May 2000, Norwich Union merged with insurer, CGU, and in 2002 was rebranded as Aviva. Since then, however, and despite 4,000 jobs being axed in favour of Indian call centres, the company has retained its separate UK identity, as you’d expect from one of Britain’s best-known financial brands.
With almost 23 million customers, this is a risky move, and were it to fail, Aviva wouldn’t be the first multi-national to botch a brand launch.
Mitsubishi, for instance, introduced a range of vehicles named ‘Pajero‘ (known as ‘Shogun’ here in the UK). No-one told the company directors that ‘pajero’ is Spanish slang for “wanker”.
Or do you remember Consignia from 2001?
What could be more sacrosanct in branding terms than the Post Office? Its management hasn’t always seen it that way. In 2001, the company was rebranded as Consignia in an attempt to distance itself from its state history and claim a greater share of international markets. The public was not impressed with this attack on a British institution. The following year, Consignia had been dumped in favour of the more traditional Royal Mail Group.
More rebranding disasters at the foot of the following article from The Independent: Norwich Union name to disappear after 200 years.
Here’s the high-budget Aviva ad currently aired in the UK.
I’m sure Aviva directors will say the change heralds a bright future, and I can see the benefits of having a single international brand, but unlike Ringo Starr, Elle Macpherson, Alice Cooper, and Bruce Willis, Norwich Union had already achieved top-of-mind positioning.
200 years of trust is a long time, and we humans are creatures of comfort. 23 million customers are going to need a little comforting.