The Scoop @ MSCO

Mark on MSNBC: Citi or Citigroup?

It Really Doesn’t Matter Citigroup is, yet again, rebranding itself.

By Tom Taulli

By line

[This is excerpted from the article on MSNBC.COM]

I recently wrote a book review of the Real Deal, the autobiography of Sandy Weill. In building his financial empire, Weill changed the name of his company several times — always when he struck a transformative deal: Primerica (1988), Travelers (1995), and Citigroup (NYSE: C) when he merged with Citicorp. Perhaps there is now another name change in the offing: according to a report from The New York Times, Citigroup might become Citi. However, it is likely not to amount to much.

Citigroup spent about 14 months on the process and had the support of Landor Associates, which is a branding company and part of the WPP Group (Nasdaq: WPPGY). The plan calls for the elimination of the memorable red umbrella logo, which 137 years old and has lots of brand equity. But it does have issues — it is a sign of bad luck for certain countries in Asia. Besides, isn’t an umbrella a symbol of defensiveness? Doesn’t Citigroup want to show it can still grow?

I also interviewed Mark Stevens, the CEO of MSCO and author of Your Marketing Sucks. His opinion on the matter is straightforward: “It sucks. Why? A stupid waste of shareholders’ money. Is the new better than the old? Why don’t we just change Microsoft‘s name just for the hell of it.”

Read the whole article here:

One Comment

  1. Jordan Malik ∣ January 19th / 2007 at 9:54 am

    Another pearl of wisdom, Mark. And for those who think a name change is silly only for big corporations, think again. I worked for a very small company years ago, and the other co-founder was adamant about changing our name. Even though we were a small start-up funded on our own cash flow, the name change was extremely disruptive, and even left customers disappointed (and confused). So my recommendation to small business is that unless there are some overbearing legal circumstances prompting a name change, shelve the idea and just deal with it. Your money and brainpower can be spent elsewhere (like pursuing new customers!)

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