Registered Rep

Friday, July 1, 2005

You're Calling It What!???

By Kristen French

After several months of deliberations and input from all 18,000 of its employees, the soon-to-be-spun-off American Express Financial Advisors selected as its new name (drum roll please) ... Ameriprise.

Apparently that's better than the ones left on the pile: Archetype, Amplify, Amworth, Luminous, Oakbridge, Sageborne, Sagemont and Tiller. These were, presumably, the discarded alternatives to Ameriprise; American Express trademarked all of them between April 11 and April 13.

Ameriprise is supposed to conjure up a sense of the company's American roots, the vastness of its advisor network and its enterprising culture, says CEO Jim Cracchiolo.

But Steven Manning, managing director of branding company Igor International, has his doubts. “Any time people come out and explain a name, it's because they have to,” says Manning.

Ameriprise is one of a growing breed of generic sounding, neologisms with reverse-engineered meanings, he adds. [Many people mistakenly believe that] it's difficult to find existing single words that are not already trademarked, so [they think they've] got to make them up. Invarably, disagreements ensue. Branding consultancies often end up acting like therapists, he says. “You're managing an argument, taking them to a place that they can agree on.” For AEFA, that place is Ameriprise.

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