Santander implies consumers don't value the Abbey brand

Posted on 11 January 2010 by Ray Boulger

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Santander Group this morning sent an email to brokers confirming the re-brand of Abbey and Bradford & Bingley branches to Santander, and indeed the branch in Holborn near my office has already been rebranded.

The second paragraph says: “our research has shown that you value the relationships that we have built under the ‘Abbey for Intermediary’ brand. Therefore, we believe that it is in your best interests if we retain the brand just for you, and continue to offer Abbey branded mortgages exclusively for your clients.”

Promoting a new “improved” product or a re-brand always presents a PR challenge. How do you promote the improved product or new brand without effectively criticising the old?

In Abbey’s case it has decided to keep the Abbey for Intermediaries brand but junk the Abbey name on the High Street. Having done research on the value of the Abbey for Intermediaries brand it seems reasonable to assume that Santander would also have done similar research on the value of the Abbey brand. In the light of the statement that the Abbey for Intermediaries brand is being retained because “our research has shown that you value the relationships that we have built under the ‘Abbey for Intermediary’ brand the only logical conclusion is that the research into the value of the Abbey brand did not show that sufficient consumers valued that brand. 

Abbey has had some well publicised administration problems in certain areas over the last few years, particularly with ISAs, but I would nevertheless find it surprising if most customers didn’t put a reasonable amount of value on the brand, particularly after the fairly recent re-brand from Abbey National.

There is obviously greater value for consumers in a more global proposition for a current account than a mortgage, despite the EU’s crass belief in harmonising everything that moves, and so I can completely understand the logic in adopting the Santander brand for the branches. In particular Santander’s new Zero current account offers excellent value, specifically because the debit card allows overseas withdrawals without the usual fees.

I merely the question the message about the Abbey brand implied by today’s email to brokers.

Categories: Mortgages, Personal finance, Miscellaneous

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