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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition