February 15, 2007
Citigroup Changes Name, Returns Travelers’ Umbrella
Citogroups’s recent announcement that the company was uniting its businesses under the “Citi” brand name and selling its red umbrella logo to insurance giant St. Paul Travelers was not a surprise to most people.
Citigroup has long needed to present a unified brand name to the world and has done it with the Citi initiative.
The company’s various divisions (which briefly included the original Travelers Group and its umbrella logo) will start using different colored logos all with the recognizable red arc logo. The company names will change to reflect inclusion in the Citi brand as well: Citi Smith Barney, Citi Investment Research and Citi Private Bank. Citi’s legal corporate name, however, will remain Citigroup Inc.
Citi’s return of the famous Travelers umbrella has caused much happiness in Hartford, the original home of Travelers, which had flirted with the idea of throwing out the umbrella altogether as part of its effort to build its brand name via its new parent company, St Paul Travelers Cos under a winged shield logo.
Obviously, common sense prevailed and St. Paul Travelers, after it buys the umbrella for undisclosed millions, is going to change its company name to The Travelers Cos (the stock goes to TRV from STA) and will be using that umbrella logo once again.
Citigroup’s effort to collate its myriad interests under one simple, memorable, and Google-friendly name is a great one, not least because they have also named the local stadium after themselves.
The experience with the Travelers umbrella is a nice lesson in branding: you just cannot trade logos between industries. The umbrella logo says “insurance” to millions of people, not “banking.”
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