Name changes lead boom in corporate jobs

International News: Clare Dowdy 0171-439 4222

Corporate graphic design is thriving as name changes rise sharply, nearly half of them being a result of the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions, two new US surveys reveal.

Anspach Grossman Enterprise’s figures for the first half of 1996 show a 30 per cent increase in name changes for US listed companies- the highest number of such changes in the same period since 1988.

“The business for graphic design in the US is absolutely booming,” with the steep increase in name changes reflecting the growth in the economy, says consultancy president and chief executive Jim Johnson.

Mergers and acquisitions accounted for 378 of the new names, compared with 316 during the same period last year, according to Anspach Grossman Enterprise.

This is backed up by Interbrand Schechter’s fourteenth semi-annual Corporate Name Change Survey, released this week.

Although Interbrand Schechter only records a four per cent rise in name changes for the first half of the year, “if certain obvious trends, such as mergers and acquisitions, continue throughout 1996 at the same pace, then we could see a record number of name changes by the end of the year”, says a group spokeswoman.

However consultancy chairman Alvin Schechter notes a disappearance of company names in some instances, when a newly merged organisation simply adopts the identity of the dominant party.

Corporate realignments and spin offs of separate operations also have an impact on the identity industry.

Anspach Grossman Enterprise itself went through a reorganisation earlier this year, changing its name from Anspach Grossman Portugal after it joined the WPP Group’s global Enterprise Identity Group (DW 19 April).

Johnson notes a growing trend in more simple and self-explanatory design, moving away from extremely abstract concepts, names and design systems. “With the amount of clutter in the economy with new products, companies and activities, companies now need to be very efficient with their communications,” he says.

Alvin Schechter backs this up, saying spin off companies tend to be highly focused on a core business, compared with the vast conglomerates of the past: “This allows the symbols of communication to be more specific and design has a role in evoking once more specific lines of business,” rather than having to cater for the company’s mix of interests with a vague symbol.

Schechter cites Lucent Technologies, the company spun off from parent group AT&T as an example of a clear identity work. The marque was created by Landor in San Francisco (16 February).

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