What's in a name? In AIG's case, a lot of misery

This weekend, AIG began a major rebranding initiative, changing the signs at some of its most prominent buildings and renaming some of its companies to distance them from its recent scandals.

When things are going well, a brand name is a good thing to have. For a well-respected company, it functions as a sort of promise, guaranteeing a certain level of performance and quality; in return, customers are often willing to pay a little more, if only to ensure that they get the best. On the other hand, when things are bad, a brand name can be a weakness. As any fugitive (and many celebrities) can attest, there are times when it pays to be anonymous, and a name change can be a great first step to putting the miseries of the past to sleep.

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