July 28, 2009
A U.S. health care advisory group and a London-based risk technology research firm share something in common with American International Group's (AIG) new brand Chartis Insurance: a name.
But it's doubtful they chose the name Chartis for the same reason AIG did in part: to be forgotten.
Chartis Group is a research and management advisory firm for healthcare organizations. It has locations in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Like AIG's new Chartis, the company's logo is a compass.
Chris Regan, managing director in the New York office of Chartis Group, told Insurance Journal he did not know about AIG's branding plans nor did he know if AIG had been in touch with anyone in his company about the name. He had no further comment.
Chartis Research is a team of analysts and advisors from the risk management and financial services industry that advises corporations on risk management, governance and compliance. It has offices in London and on Wall Street. The team is headed by Peyman Mestchian. A phone message and emails to this firm were not answered.
Neither Chartis Research nor Chartis Group appears to have trademarked the Chartis name, while AIG/AIU has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for rights to Chartis, complete with a compass logo and the tagline, "Chartis, Your World Insured."
According to AIG, Chartis derives from the Greek word for map, which the company said underscores the company's 90-year history as a global insurance pioneer.
While AIG is apparently not alone in liking the name, is Chartis a name to remember?
Perhaps not, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
One naming expert says the new corporate moniker is neither memorable nor snappy -- and in that regard the name Chartis is perfect for what AIG wants to do, which is to distance itself from its old company and not draw a lot of attention to itself while doing so.
"It's the kind of name that's in one ear and out the other," said Steven Manning, managing director for Igor, a well-known international naming and branding agency based in San Francisco. "It blends into the woodwork, which is just what the assignment was."
Even the logo, a compass, is predictable, Manning noted.
Manning likened the move to Enron's adopting Prisma Energy and Phillip Morris choosing Altria.
"It's about breaking the association with AIG, like going into witness protection," he said.
Chartis Insurance is using www.chartisinsurance.com for its Web site. Chartis Group uses chartis.com and chartisgroup.com.
Chartis Insurance, headquartered in New York, of course, has quite a head start on other companies picking a name. It includes the profitable AIG/AIU Commercial Insurance, Foreign General Insurance and Private Client Group operations. It had a combined statutory surplus of $32.1 billion worldwide at year-end 2008 and more than 40 million clients around the globe.
AIG/AIU hopes that the financially strong Chartis will be recognized for its success apart from the AIG name, which has been tainted by actions out of its London financial products unit that eventually resulted in a U.S. federal government bailout. The P/C units now being branded as Chartis did not get into trouble and did not require bailout funds.
A spokesman for AIG/AIU Holdings had no comment about whether AIG was aware of the other firms with the Chartis name or whether this is a concern.
Manning said that a move like this involves "massive due diligence" and he suspects AIG's lawyers did theirs before investing in the name.