Bunhill: No wise owl

YOU may have missed it, but Guardian Royal Exchange will soon be no more. The insurer is changing its name to Guardian and replacing its boxy GRE logo with a picture of an owl. It wanted a shorter, more memorable name, apparently. Surprisingly few hoots of derision met its decision to ditch one of the best-known names in the business in favour of one likely to be confused with a newspaper or a security firm.

'The owl stands for wisdom and watchfulness and all that sort of crap,' a GRE spokesman tells me. And there is more: the bird is also a symbol linked with the goddess Minerva, who was used in the old Guardian insurance group logo, before it merged with the Royal Exchange group in 1968.

GRE was advised by the corporate identity consultant SampsonTyrrell, which developed the umbrella symbol for Legal & General. Its chairman Terry Tyrrell (or possibly TerryTyrrell) says the owl scored highest in intensive market research, beating both butterflies and lions.

Birds are popular as symbols for companies. Bovis uses a humming bird, the old Woolies group a Kingfisher, this newspaper a rather tetchy eagle. Then there are Penguin books and an aviary of others.

The owl is associated with maturity, watchfulness, dignity and wisdom, insists Tyrrell, revealing a distressing gap in his childhood education. The owl, of course, is a pompous creature who misspells his name Wol and is forever trying to conceal his stupidity. First reader to suggest that makes it an ideal symbol for an insurance company loses his no-claims bonus.

FUNNY thing, bribery. The Malaysian government is so touchy on the subject it slaps a boycott on British goods on the strength of a single rather vague allegation in a British newspaper. Our own Government, on the other hand, has a rather more robust attitude to bribes. It has just decided to go on buying from two foreign firms that were proved in an English court to have bribed a Whitehall official.

Gordon Foxley, former director of ammunition procurement at the Ministry of Defence, was convicted last year of receiving pounds 1.5m in bribes for placing MoD orders with Norwegian, Italian and German firms (though he has been too ill to be sentenced).

Now, by a strange irony, defence minister Jonathan Aitken has decided to continue buying non-ricochet ammo from AS Rossfoss of Norway and shell fuses from Fratelli Lli Borletti of Italy, a Fiat subsidiary, both of which bribed Foxley. The MoD is also trying to get the firms to pay it damages.

The dealings were revealed when Janet Anderson, Labour MP for Rossendale and Darwen, wrote to Aitken to ask whether the contracts could be switched to the Royal Ordnance factory in Blackburn, Lancs, whose workforce has been decimated by Foxley placing pounds 55m of orders elsewhere. No, said Aitken.

RO worker Christine Hulme is unimpressed: 'Our work was sold abroad. The crime was discovered, and we are still suffering job losses.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there