Standard & Poor’s gave away a strong name
“Landor announced that it has provided brand strategy and design services to McGraw Hill Financial for the company’s bold new brand identity as S&P Global. Landor partnered with the company to create a new name and design system that confidently marks S&P Global as the leader in delivering essential intelligence to companies, governments, and individuals.” The press release of May 3, 2016 introduced the text about the rebranding. What about the acceptance of the new brand name five years later?
Despite owning Standard & Poor’s, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Index, and Platts – some of the most iconic benchmarks and market intelligence brands in the world – McGraw Hill Financial (MHFI) was commonly perceived as a textbook publisher. With a clearly established business strategy, Landor helped MHFI “define its true value and claim its unique position in the market. As S&P Global, the brand tells a new story and opens an auspicious chapter in its impressive history.”
Founded by Walter Landor in 1941 and today a global leader in brand consulting and design, Landor helps clients create agile brands that thrive in today’s dynamic, disruptive marketplace. Their work shall enable top brands—from Barclays to BMW and Tide to Taj – “to stand for something while never standing still”.
Benchmarks and essential intelligence form the backbone of the financial ecosystem, with credit ratings and indices constantly referenced to bring context and clarity to investment decisions. Landor focused the new brand on the pivotal role S&P Global plays as the common denominator in the world of finance, providing this essential intelligence to investors.
There was a sophisticated argument behind the renaming of the group of companies. In practice, however, the new company name is still a long way from establishing itself. For the credit rating agency in particular, S&P is still struggling globally to enforce the new name, even though it is actually to be used in a legally binding manner. The rating agency is regulated in many jurisdictions around the globe.
Ratings and rating agencies are quoted by many issuers and named on their websites. Here are some examples of how the agency’s new name is still ignored after half a decade (access to all of the websites below from September 3, 2021):
The selection of these issuers was purely random, regarding the question of how S&P Global Ratings is presented. In the sample, none of the issuers gave correct information about the agencies by which they were assessed. All of them used the old name and not the new brand identity developed by Landor.
The European issuers would actually be obliged to name the credit rating agency correctly, as the rating agency is subject to regulation by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). The correct name of the European subsidiary of the US rating agency is not “Standard & Poor’s”, but “S&P Global Ratings Europe Limited“.
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