What's in a name? Quite possibly more signs of a changing industry.
Charlotte-based TIAA-CREF is now just TIAA, a change made in the name of simplicity and improved client engagement.
The change also represents the company’s acknowledgement that the financial services industry is moving away from products and towards client relationships as the building blocks of success.
TIAA worried that their hyphenated, abbreviated former name might turn off some investors, says Connie Weaver, chief marketing officer.
“Thus came through an effort to develop a deeper understanding of what our customers want, where they are and how we can meet them there on their terms,” Weaver says. “It was really a blend of the art and science of media and of finance. Our audience is trying to overcome fear and inertia when it comes to dealing with their finances.”
The shortened name and a new logo represent an attempt to soften the brand’s impact, says Weaver.
The change also signals TIAA’s shift from being identified primarily with investment products like annuities, mutual funds and insurance products for primarily not-for-profit workers building retirement accounts to a company that provides advice and other financial services to a larger constituency of investors and savers.
“When we looked at the name itself and everything that we have become, it was a relatively direct choice to make a change,” Weaver says. “We now represent a broader array of products and capabilities, and a big piece of our business is now providing advice through retirement plans. That’s a bigger umbrella, and simplifying our name allowed us not to lose our traditional roots.”
TIAA has also rolled out a new website updating the design and messaging to meet the preferences of today’s internet users.
“We were keyed on three things: Making things radically simple, meeting people where they are in their financial lives whether those people are 30 or they’re 60, and to be an engaged ally for those people,” Weaver says. “If inertia is the big enemy, we had to recognize that a lot of that inertia is because people feel intimidated when they have to make investment decisions.”