A total transformation of a 197-year-old company

Standard Life Aberdeen was an 197-year-old company with a highly confusing corporate structure, exacerbated by a series of mergers and acquisitions.

The merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017 had not gone smoothly and the company faced serious questions over its strategy and leadership.

Then, in 2021, the company’s new leadership team challenged Wolff Olins to help lead a complete transformation. CEO Stephen Bird had a provocative plan to modernise a company that had struggled to find its footing, faced with global competition from players like BlackRock, Vanguard and Schroders.

To help deliver the transformation, our brief was to develop a new purpose, a new series of propositions for different business units, and a new global identity that could be applied across everything from websites to offices to sponsorships to advertising - and rolled out at pace around the globe.

Built on a powerful purpose: to create more than money

abrdn’s fresh brand strategy and identity was built on a new core purpose: to create more than money. 

This means helping a wide array of clients - including individuals, intermediaries and institutions - to create more ways for their money to make an impact. 

For example, abrdn sets its sights on giving clients more confidence to achieve their goals, more clarity about what they need next, and delivering outcomes that are more than just financial – by investing sustainably to build a better world.

This idea was translated into a new global identity symbolising the movement of money and the free flow of digital data. This was a radically new identity that could unite a formerly disparate enterprise and catapult it into the digital era.

The new brand launched in April 2021, and has already been rolled out on a global level. We have helped to shape a new website, office environments, sponsorship materials, corporate reports, merchandise and advertising.

A future-fit brand ready for global and digital expansion

The rebrand has not only strengthened and simplified abrdn’s existing business around the globe, it has set abrdn up to make integrating new acquisitions far easier - including those of Interactive Investor and of digital advisory businesses like Finimize and Exo.

“Our previous brands were seen as traditional and conservative,” says Simon Bailey, abrdn Global Head of Brand and Marketing. “With the help of Wolff Olins, we wanted a bold move to stand out. We needed to harness and retain the positive equity of the past, while pivoting to focus on the future.

“Now we are part of the conversation as to how customers and clients' needs are changing and how our business model has changed to deliver for them.”

Simon Bailey adds: “The brand is not just the name or the visual identity, it’s everything we say and everything that we do. This rebrand delivers simplification, although our intention has always been to send a strong signal to customers, clients and colleagues on our confidence about our new future and role in a changing industry.”

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An identity built from a simple shape

This new identity is built from a shape that symbolises the free-flowing movement of money and digital data. It has been designed to feel tangible, impactful and to move in line with your gestures - as simple as shifting counters on an abacus.

“The new brand builds on our heritage and is modern, dynamic and, most importantly, engaging for all of our client and customer channels”

Simon Bailey, Global Head of Brand and Marketing

A three-dimensional language designed to adapt

The abrdn brand has a strong sense of purpose and conviction, and its dynamic 3D nature reflects this. Across every touchpoint and moment, we wanted to make abrdn’s highly valued customers feel like the brand is active, on the move and never satisfied with the status quo.

A digital-first experience - built with the screen in mind

Alongside world-class face-to-face advice, abrdn increasingly provides digital advisory services across the globe. That’s why we developed a solution for them that feels intuitive and like the power to make change happen is in your hands on any screen.

Making an impact in the real world

abrdn’s brand works across multiple physical assets including office environments, sponsorship assets, advertising, printed reports and more. Even in static media, this is a brand that feels like it’s making an impact and helping people push to create more.