Will Rebranding Rescue AIG’s Future?

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In 2007, AIG, with a brand value of over $7 billion, led all insurance companies in BusinessWeek’s ranking of global brands. But today, “AIG has become the Enron of brand names,” according to author Liz Goodgold. “The brand name is what people remember and that name is forever tainted.”

Maybe that’s why every division of the embattled financial services company is scrambling to distance itself from those three initials. The automobile insurance division was renamed 21st Century Insurance before it was sold to Farmers Insurance Group. AIG Annuity has been re-christened Western National Insurance. And AIG’s property/casualty business is now operating under the newly introduced brand name Chartis, Insurancenewsnet reports.[more]

“Companies want a new name when they have two things against them—insurmountable negative publicity and negative connotation,” Goodgold says. (Remember ValueJet?) “AIG hit both of those key criteria.” Still, the corporate name remains in place. Even as the economic recovery slowly unfolds, that could be a liability consumers won’t soon forget.

Of course, the real test is not so much in the brand’s name, but rather in the brand’s integrity. Will AIG and its newly named divisions set themselves on a new path to fiscal responsibility—or will the sins of the past simply be repeated?

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