Q&A: Inside the rebrand of Architas to AXA IM Select

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Alex Macneil, Global Head of Marketing & Creative at AXA IM Select, explains the firm’s rebrand from Architas.


FSF: What was behind the rebrand of Architas to AXA IM Select?

Alex Macneil: Architas, a specialist multi-manager, have always been part of the AXA Group but had previously been a separate business to AXA IM. In 2022 the decision was made to onboard Architas into AXA IM as a new business unit. This was done to consolidate all of AXA’s asset management capabilities under one roof in order to have a broader and deeper offer for all of our clients.

This onboarding was the perfect opportunity for us to really think about the future business strategy, and against that, consider the benefits and opportunities that either continuing as Architas, or rebranding under AXA IM could bring for our customers.


What was the strategy for the rebrand? How did you choose the name and creative identity?

To help inform the decision on whether to keep the Architas brand as an independent brand or move under the AXA IM brand, we conducted a number of stakeholder interviews within the business and with key clients, as well as undertaking competitor research. This helped us to understand the current brand perceptions of both Architas and AXA IM. Importantly, it highlighted the key aspects of the Architas brand that we should retain regardless, which was mainly around our retail focus and tone of voice. The research also clearly told us that AXA was the brand our customers knew and trusted, and rebranding under AXA, together with the scale and resources of IM, would make the most commercial sense and best serve our customer’s needs.

The findings from the research fed through to the creative identity we implemented. As we were moving under AXA IM with an established brand identity, there was already a clear set of brand guidelines in place. However, given the retail focus and tone of voice Architas was known for we worked collaboratively with the AXA teams to broaden the guidelines to bring these elements though offering the flexibility we needed to communicate with our retail and wealth audiences in a way that best resonates with them.

In terms of the name specifically, it was important that we found a name that could represent both sides of our business. This includes the multi-manager/fund selector nature of our unit-linked business, and for our premium Wealth Management service in Belgium. We felt that Select addressed both of these elements, and also matched the style of AXA IM’s other business unit names.


What do you see as the advantages from a marketing perspective of being under the AXA IM umbrella?

Being under the AXA IM umbrella allows us to leverage the strong reputation and global presence of the well-known AXA brand, which means we can focus less on building pure name awareness, and instead focus on building awareness of the investment management capabilities of AXA IM. Operating under one brand also enables us to collaborate across the organisation more effectively, combining resources and expertise, and taking advantage of the size and scale of a larger organisation to better service our customers.


What was required behind the scenes to implement the rebrand?

Integrating the two brands required a significant amount of work and collaboration across multiple teams in the business. At a strategic level, we needed to understand the current brand strategy from both sides, identify areas of commonality and where there was divergence, and align to make sure our approach contributed to strengthening the brand overall. Importantly this also involved ensuring that our needs and our client segment focus were accounted for within the overall strategy.

From a tactical perspective, there were numerous workstreams to ensure successful delivery of the project. For example, one of the larger streams was on digital infrastructure, where we needed to build a roadmap for alignment and integration while still allowing for delivery of marketing activity during the project.


What did you learn from the rebrand and what were the biggest challenges?

Communication was absolutely crucial throughout the project, and keeping stakeholders informed and aligned as the project progressed was a key part of this. This included communicating with all employees. A rebrand impacts everyone in the organisation so sharing information as early as possible and what the direct impact may be for them was very important.

One of the biggest challenges were legal and regulatory considerations for a global brand with different requirements in each country, as well as a tight timeline to deliver all aspects of the rebrand.


What are the plans to further activate the new brand?

Our focus at AXA IM Select (formally Architas) has always been on retail clients. We believe this rebrand provides an opportunity for us to position AXA IM more effectively as a leading asset manager in our target markets’ retail space, utilising our strong history in serving retail investors and delivering effective investor education, digestible investment views and engaging product storytelling.

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