Shoot the corporate naming consultants first

Moody's downgrades American Express Financial spinoff

Forget the numbers. I have no concrete explanation for why Moody's Investors Service today downgraded the debt rating for Minneapolis-based American Express Financial Corp. I have no pretense that anyone cares.

But I feel compelled to point out that the investment group's recent decision to change its name to "Ameriprise Financial" is an offense against the language. The spinoff, which will be a Fortune 500 company with 2.5 million clients and $400 billion under management, will soon own a blank non-word for its identity. Are they renting out cars? Are they operating a new arm of the right-wing don't-think tank the American Enterprise Institute? As a non-certified financial analyst, I would personally advise them to shitcan that label, and any names like it (Ameriprise Certificate Company, Ameriprise Auto & Home, Ameriprise Trust Company) before the brand's August 1 launch.

Alas, the more likely possibility is that Ameriprise will soon be joining Minnesota's other corporate chameleons in the thick annals of moronic nomenclature. I can already imagine the summer softball tournament between Ameriprise Financial and Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) and CenterPoint Energy (Minnegasco). Does Xcel do anything other than sell power in the northern states? What is the "center" of CenterPoint? Should we really trust our power grid to a group of people who cannot find the space key?

Singing the national anthem near third base: VocalEssence (formerly the Plymouth Music Series).

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