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  • Writer's pictureDrew Allen

The art of persuasion

‘Reluctant Persuaders’ is the name some of you may know. It is the title of a BBC R4 series starring Nigel Havers and Josie Lawrence. It’s set in an ad agency and takes a dig at the mores, pretentions and obsessions of the creative industry. It’s very silly. A good old British ‘send up’….

Aptly named, I think. Explaining creative ideas is challenging and persuading others to your view is challenging. Or can be.

The obligation is always to be articulate, concise and on point - linking creative idea to business need. And, as for any industry, some people are better at it than others.

Not selling. Persuading and encouraging buy-in, often for an abstract notion that is rarely evidence based but conviction based. And, business naming, is right up there.

And, you just know when an idea is right. Right? Yes, right, and you know when one is wrong, no?

Get it?

No. It’s unpronounceable. You’ll have to explain. (lose five points)

Well, you see, said venerable financial institution was called Aberdeen. But we changed it to Abrdn!

Don’t worry, we will put out a little video-explainer that animates just how we got there. (lose another five points)

And, for reassurance it’s still called Aberdeen. But that’s right back where we started.

I went online to get a prepared sound bite from Abrdn’s Persuader in Chief (PC) and CEO.

The rebranding is “modern, dynamic and, most importantly, engaging,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bird said in a statement. “Our new name reflects the clarity of focus that the leadership team are bringing to the business.”

Really? Twitter, was quick to disagree.

And, apparently, according to the FT: (FT- I get that)

….’in a bid to attract a younger client base by mimicking the naming approach of some start-ups.’

Why would an excellent business, that has a long legacy to be proud of, show such lack of confidence? Trying to stay abreast of the times and reflect the new reality, is sound business practice. Trying to get down with the kids, isn’t.

EDF has recently dropped the ENERGY from its name. This makes sense. Now, long established in the consumers mind, it reflects what they are actually called. People do drop the ‘Energy’ in conversation. So why not a real-world reflection? Common sense. We are all for simplification… and common sense.

Drop stuff, change stuff, with good reason, (EDF did) but, Corporate Identity (not branding - btw) is supposed to be strategic, not fashionable. Do stuff because it reflects the new reality, not because it's trendy, transient and unpronounceable.

I would love to have seen the idea pitched.

Where’s Nigel Havers?

Abrdn is willfully awkward - is this the new zeitgeist?



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