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More businesses decide “Swiss” stands for quality

Swiss Life aims to shed its old-fashioned image Keystone

Switzerland’s largest life insurer, Swiss Life, has announced a makeover of its corporate identity, dropping its other name, “Rentenanstalt”.

The company is among a number of Swiss firms that have decided the word “Swiss” stands for quality and reliability.

Swiss Life said in a statement that it had decided to go under one name in future in order to better promote the company internationally.

It already used the name Swiss Life everywhere, but in German-speaking Switzerland was also known as “Rentenanstalt”, which roughly translates as “pension institution”.

The company also said its current structure was too complex, and would be replaced by a clearer and simplified organisation of its businesses.

Swiss Life is the latest in a series of Swiss companies to opt for the English word “Swiss” instead of the native German-, French- or Italian-language alternatives.

Switzerland’s national airline chose to call itself “swiss”, following in the same vein as its predecessor, Swissair.

The country’s biggest telecoms operator is called Swisscom, while the world’s second-largest reinsurer goes by the name of Swiss Re.

International identity

Richard Kuhn, a professor of marketing at the University of Bern, says Swiss businesses have opted to use the name “Swiss” partly because they hope to profit from the values Switzerland represents to people both in Switzerland and abroad.

“There has been a range of studies on the values of the image of Switzerland and there are some values that are quite important specifically for insurance companies, such as high quality, exclusiveness, reliability.”

For Kaspar Loeb, managing director of the Zurich-based advertising company, Publicis, the use of an English name is important for businesses operating in the global marketplace.

“In international business, English is the dominant language, so ‘Swiss Life’ is understood perfectly,” he said.

Out with the old

Kuhn says the decision to drop the name “Rentenanstalt” shows the company is shedding its conservative connotations.

“When you lose a name you always lose the values related to that name and probably the name ‘Rentenanstalt’ had a certain conservative touch,” he told swissinfo. “But this is not too bad for an insurance company because insurance companies work with security and conservative values.”

“On the other hand, it is also a rather complicated name, specifically when you want to use it in the global market.”

Swiss Life’s new identity will be launched in Switzerland in March, and the company expects to have completed the changes in its core markets by the end of 2005.

The company’s logo has also undergone a makeover. The new logo is made up of three red, wavy stripes, one containing the white cross of the Swiss flag.

The company will invest a total of SFr15 million ($12 million) in the brand makeover between now and the end of 2005.

Swiss Life’s rebranding follows a drastic overhaul of the company’s operations in a bid to cut costs.

Along with other insurers hard hit by last year’s economic downturn, Swiss Life has pursued a strategy of focusing on its core businesses, selling off assets and slashing staff.

It aims to cut costs by SFr515 million by the end of 2004.

swissinfo with agencies

Other companies who use the word “Swiss” in their names include:
Swiss Re
However, other companies, such as economiesuisse and Credit Suisse have opted for the French alternative.

Swiss Life has chosen to ditch its Swiss-German name, Rentenanstalt.

It has also changed its company logo.

The rebranding will cost SFr15 million between now and the end of 2005.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR