There are one or two people who every time we write an article about Abrn – whether it’s about financial results or the launch of a new program – still complain that he deleted all traces of the letter “E” of its name when it was rebranded.
As Money Marketing editor Katey Pigden wrote in her cover for July 2021, the Aberdeen name was added to Standard Life in August 2017 when the merger of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life was completed, creating Standard Life Aberdeen. When the company sold the Standard Life name to Phoenix last February, it needed a new name. It couldn’t just be called Aberdeen because that was the name of a city. Hence, he took the nickname Abrn.
This was an interesting case study of how a company chose its name. It got me thinking about how financial advisory firms of all sizes go about it.
A business is more than a name, of course, but that name is often the first impression a customer has. As Abrdn demonstrated, it also has the power to get people talking (even if that talk isn’t entirely positive).
If chosen intelligently, a unique name can be inspiring
A financial adviser I know well told me that he simply put together three “elitist-sounding” names that had no connection to him. He wishes to remain anonymous, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but his company has a certain prestige.
Carrying the name of a founder may seem more personal or familial to customers. But that’s pretty unimaginative and meaningless to a potential customer.
On the other hand, a name that isn’t simply that of the company founder can sound like a cheesy cliche — kind of like a bad tattoo — and still mean nothing to potential customers.
However, if chosen wisely, a unique name can be inspirational.
Money Marketing asked financial advisors for the story behind their company’s name.
Director, London Money
It’s all about simplicity. Many people think too much about the name of their business to the point of finding themselves in a deadly spiral of doubt and insecurity.
I myself remember this process. After writing down six silly suggestions, I thought to myself, “Surely less is more? And it’s.
I lived and worked in London and money was the commodity. Surely “London Money” did what it said on the box much better than a convoluted or immemorial name?
I also didn’t want to give my name to the company. I like to think I’m more creative than that.
I lived and worked in London and money was the commodity. “London Money” did what it said on the box. Don’t rule out the obvious
A good litmus test for a name is, once thought of, the natural assumption is that it must have already been taken. With London Money, I discovered that was not the case. So the second lesson I learned was: don’t discount the obvious; he often looks you in the face.
Founder and President, Ovation
When I started my business in 1999, I struggled to find a name that I liked.
I am a passionate guitarist and my guitar hero has always been Joan Armatrading. Joan played an Ovation acoustic guitar, so this was the first guitar I bought.
Walking with my wife one day browsing endless Greek heroes and money puns, I said, “I might as well name the company after my guitar: Ovation Finance Limited.”
Joan Armatrading played an Ovation acoustic guitar
She replied, “That’s not the worst name you’ve said.”
And that’s how Ovation was born.
Founder, Eleven.2 Financial Planning
11.2 km per second is Earth’s escape velocity. We thought that reflected pretty well what we were doing for clients. They’re mostly trying to escape from where they are to where they want to be, whether it’s retirement, getting out of a business, any major lifestyle change, really.
It also fit my situation, having spent time in some pretty disappointing companies and wanting to escape to a better and much more customer-friendly way of doing things. I knew I wanted to do it, but I also had to do it in a way that didn’t fall off on day one.
11.2 km per second is Earth’s escape velocity. We thought this reflected pretty well what we were doing for customers.
With any great goal, the “hopes and dreams” part is great; that’s why you’re doing something big in the first place. But the problem with big, exciting projects is that they usually need someone boring to crunch the numbers.
Astronauts need their shuttle to take off. I think that’s what a good financial planner does, so the name made sense. Our customers are the astronauts and we are the mission control guys with clipboards and big Joe 90 goggles.
In practice, it’s a bit of a pain because it’s impossible to turn it into an email address that you can give someone over the phone in less than three attempts.
Managing Director, One Four Nine
In the early days of the business, I was in a meeting with an executive from one of the national consulting firms, and I thought, “I need something to call the business during its development phase, in less.”
I glanced at my watch and noticed the date was September 14 – which was also my late mother’s birthday. Therefore, for the sake of discussion, I have begun to refer to the company as “One Four Nine”.
When it came to incorporating the company, I couldn’t get away from One Four Nine, so that’s what I decided the real name should be.
I looked at my watch and noticed the date was September 14 – which was also my late mother’s birthday
The business is now One Four Nine Group, which includes One Four Nine Portfolio Management and One Four Nine Wealth – the vehicle that will hold the acquired advisors.
Founder and Managing Director, Flying Colors
When I was looking to start a consulting business, I talked to people who were going to join me in the venture: a marketer and other industry friends. We brainstormed ideas, but it was clear from the start that a traditional solution, such as using the names of the founders, was not going to be enough.
I thought, “If you can ace your exams, why can’t you do the same with your financial goals?”
We were nearing the launch and didn’t have a name.
In a separate chat, a friend said her son passed his exams with flying colors, which touched me. I thought, “If you can ace your exams, why can’t you do the same with your financial goals?”
I analyzed this a bit more and offered it to others. We all loved it, so the name stuck.
We recently embarked on a rebranding, which we believe elevates the name to a new level, and we are excited about what the future holds for Flying Colours.
Managing Director, Offspring
A brand is not just what you call something, but what you create. There’s a big difference between choosing a name and investing in a brand, and we were certain that this was a living, breathing brand that we intended to grow and nurture.
Really investing in the brand is crucial if you want to give it the status and longevity it needs to connect with people and thrive commercially. Our thinking was informed by the principles we stood for and what we had decided to do as a company.
A brand is not just what you call something, but what you create
We are focused on planning for the next generation – for our customers and our industry – so the name we chose had dual resonance and was a perfect fit with our vision. We want to create a business and a brand that outlives us all, so “Progeny” was the perfect choice.
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Tembo
“Tembo” seemed like a great brand name choice for our family-oriented mortgage business. It is unique in the market and grabs your attention, but it also has meaning for me.
‘Tembo’ means ‘elephant’ in Swahili – something I learned when, after graduating from university, I worked on a farm in Zambia and then in a teak forest in Tanzania, where I helped protect elephants. Elephants are the most family-friendly animal in the world.
‘Tembo’ is unique and grabs your attention, but it also has meaning to me
Just like humans, elephant herds are made up of families. They babysit for each other, they make decisions collectively, they mourn each other’s deaths.
This ties directly into Tembo’s corporate philosophy: like elephants, families can achieve more together than they can go it alone.
Director, Active Certified Financial Planners
Active Chartered Financial Planners in Stockton-on-Tees was set up in July 2000 by former managing director Glyn Pemberton after the firm he had worked with for 14 years closed.
When choosing a name, Glyn’s main consideration was how far he could get in the yellow pages. It was a time when the Internet and sophisticated branding and marketing exercises were not widely used by local small businesses.
Glyn selected Active Financial Services, in alphabetical order, to appear first in any search performed by someone accessing the financial services page. This turned out to be fortuitous as ‘active’ is now a relevant word in the industry, with many investment portfolios known to be actively managed.
The firm achieved coveted Chartered status in 2013, later changing its name to Active Chartered Financial Planners. Now nine members of the team are also certified, including directors Karl Pemberton and myself, with five advisors holding the pinnacle of scholarship in the industry.
Glyn selected Active Financial Services, in alphabetical order, to appear first in any search. This turned out to be fortuitous as “active” is now a relevant word in the industry
The company has since added other accolades, including Pension Transfer Gold status and North East Employer of the Year by the Federation of Small Businesses.
Luckily, Glyn didn’t go for “Aardvark Financial” (it was on the list) to earn the top spot in the directories. Not as eye-catching and may not carry the same professional weight in today’s world.