Rebranding and renaming of an existing company are often greeted with howls of derision by shareholders and the press, who are usually suspicious of the need for an expensive and time-consuming business that makes little difference to the actual workings of the company.
But I think a renaming process is actually a rather good indicator that the senior management of the company is taking a fundamental view of the organisation's aims and ambitions. They are often the first visible sign that a basic rethink is going on behind the scenes, and are usually followed by some radical corporate action that redefines the company.
It is against that background that we should look at yesterday's announcement from Abu Dhabi that the financial market in that emirate – the Abu Dhabi Securities Market – is to be renamed the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, or ADX for short, and fitted out with a catching new logo in blue and grey. On the surface it looks a minor adjustment, but it actually reflects a new way of thinking in the capital's exchange, under chief executive Tom Healy. Earlier this year Abu Dhabi surprised the regional financial sector in a far-reaching co-operation deal with the New York Stock Exchange. That agreement throws yet another international player into the crowded Gulf market; but is will also lead to an expansion of the variety and sophistication of financial products on offer in Abu Dhabi, with a strong focus on derivatives, which are relatively under-served in other Gulf financial centres.
The introduction of the ADX brand is a logical consequence of the deal with NYSE, and it shows how quickly Abu Dhabi is making up ground on Dubai – still the UAE's premier market place.
The international side of the Dubai market – the Dubai International Financial Exchange – is at the moment thinking about its future identity after the alliance it clinched last summer with Nasdaq.
Some form of rebranding looks likely to replace the clumsy Nasdaq-DIFX handle that currently hangs on the entity. When that happens, we might also get a better idea of the strategic thinking behind Dubai's New York link-up.