Sunday, 19 April 2009

That's not my name

These days, very little of my savings (not that they amount
to much), insurance, pension or any other financial affairs are sitting in the UK. For members of my family, it's a different matter. I was recently amused and a touch annoyed to see a customer missive from the insurance company formerly known as Norwich Union.

Now, Norwich Union are changing their name and luckily I missed the mega-budget TV ads put together to inform people of this fact. But I soon caught up with these and the company's ridiculous justification for their name change on the website for the "new" name, Aviva.

The TV ads and the blurb on the website commit just about every error in the argument that it's possible to make. In the TV ads, we're treated to a "host of A-List celebrities" who seemingly only reached that stellar status through carefully chosen stage names. But none of these people achieved success but then decided to change their name to something completely different just because they wanted to play on the global stage, did they? The blurb on the website tells us that "sometimes a simple change of name can unlock the potential that was there all along. Celebrities do it all the time..." Hmmm, I can't recall Madonna, the queen of re-invention, changing her name with each new persona or new man. And while we're on the subject, just remember you're an insurance and financial services company, not a celebrity. Some celebrities do all manner of distasteful things "all the time", but I don't really want my insurer following suit.

Then Norwich Union start really getting a bit too big for their boots, throwing in the statement that "for us, it was just a case of outgrowing the name we started out with". If you look at Interbrand's fastest growing brands, I think you'll find that most of them stick to their names. Can you imagine Apple thinking: "oh dear, an apple is, sort of...small. Can't we call ourselves one-million-acre-banana-plantation instead to give more an idea of scale?"

The name itself - Aviva - is described as "perfect for us because it's short, memorable and feels positive and lively." Apart from sounding like either a product for people of a certain age with bladder weakness or a Eurovision Song Contest entry, I am not sure that I want my pensions and insurance company too positive and lively. How about solid, honest and reliable?

But the customer letter is the worst item of the whole sorry lot. Here we are reassured by those lively, positive Aviva people (who I am now convinced are transvestites in sequins with bladder problems) that "our name change will make absolutely no difference to your relationship with us."

I think the customers should be the judge of that, thank you.

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