We interrupt the regular blog for this evening from my sister on Etcpolitics for yet another guest blog by me, her little brother. This evening I take the opportunity to yet again step outside of the spartan confines of my 140 character count twitter feed (@durosas) to provide perspective related to branding and iconic institutions.
It’s interesting to read about the recent hand wringing being done over what the, potential, new name would be for a combined New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext and Deutsche Börse. It’s actually almost comical.
On one side you have political and historical perspectives related to the NYSE name. An institution that in one shape or form as been in existence for 200+ years. The other side looks at is at just as the natural flow of business. One company absorbing another and taking the stronger name of the two or a combination therein of.
So let’s try the Yogi Berra perspective of when we encounter a fork in the road, take it and provide an objective historical perspective on what the new institution should be dubbed.
First, we need to keep in mind that while the technical foundation of the NYSE can be traced back to the Buttonwood Agreement of 1792 the actual usage of the name the New York Stock Exchange wasn’t actually put into effect. In 1817 the name was officially the New York Stock & Exchange Board. So, no NYSE yet. In 1863 the name was finally changed to the New York Stock Exchange.
In comparison, the Deutsche Börse Group traces it’s roots to when a group of merchants met to set rates of exchange in front of the Frankfurt townhall in 1585. So a good 200 years prior to the Buttonwood Agreement. The exchange is given a proper name, the Alte Börse, in 1843. In 1879 it opens a new headquarters and is renamed the Neue Börse. In 1933 the exchange was merged with the Mannheim Stock Exchange. In 1990 a German futures and options exchange is opened and named Deutsche TerminBörse. In 1992, the Deutsche Börse is created as a holding company for the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the derivatives market Deutsche TerminBörse and the settlements organization Kassenverein.
If we take both those backgrounds into account then taking a stance that the NYSE has more historical heritage/equity isn’t a good argument. Additionally, lest we forget but typically the acquiring company’s (and in this case by all accounts that would be the Deutsche Börse Group) name comes out if not first in the naming order then by itself. Further, if one takes the tact that the NYSE is a historic US institution whose name shouldn’t simply be wiped away via a foreign acquisition then I ask where were the speeches of contempt when other similarly historic US institutions were taken over. Even over the course of the last several years we have seen many historic US brands names disappear from existence without so much as a whimper (e.g.: Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Arthur Andersen, Lehman Brothers, Wilmington Trust, Rich’s, Mervyn’s, Marshall Field’s) and even more that have long since left the shackles of brand awareness in the Consumer’s mind (e.g.: Bell Atlantic, Bethlehem Steel, Hercules, Rohm & Haas, Penn Central, Brooklyn Dodgers, John Wanamaker’s, TWA, PanAm..the list goes on).
No one can say that anyone one of these brands held less significance, prestige or awareness in the US Consumer psyche because to a person they could. And yet, each company name that is absorbed or flakes away into nothingness in an almost Darwinian manner ceases to hold importance to people that held the name so dear. Sure, you’ll have the people that will still refer to the Macy’s building in downtown Philadelphia as the old Wanamaker’s just like you will have people refer to the new “Fill in the blank with the new company’s name “, building as the old NYSE building. But a name shouldn’t hold back a company from serving the interests of its shareowners or by producing a more effective, efficient and by all practical sense more profitable means of doing business.
So, once the NYSE/Deutsche Börse employees have finished their internal competition and 5 years from now the new name is mentioned…fear not, no one will probably even remember what the old name used to be..except for the few who always knew is as it used to be. As for me I can’t resist the opportunity to put my marketing/branding whits to the test and throw my own two cents into the ring with something far from original; The NYB or The New YorkBörse. It maintains the marks of heritage for both while avoiding something cliché or losing complete historical significance for both original organizations by renaming it completely with something like; the Global Exchange, EuroAmerica SE or the Continental Exchange or having a run-on sentence (and somewhat comical) by calling it the NYSE Euronext Deutsche Börse.
Until next time…Gabon!