Interviews
16 oct 23

What’s in a name? CEO Tim Albertsen explains ‘Ayvens’

Finally, ALD LeasePlan has a new name. It’s ‘Ayvens’ (its pronunciation rhymes with ‘payments’), and it comes with a new logo, a new tagline, and new corporate colours. We had a chat about the why and how of the corporate makeover with Tim Albertsen, CEO of ALD LeaseP… Sorry, Ayvens!

The new name trips off the tongue a little easier than ALD LeasePlan, and as a single name, it better reflects the merged company’s aim to become more than the sum of its parts. But why ‘Ayvens’? 

“You know, it all started with a manifesto: what the company is about, what we want to be and do,” says Tim Albertsen. “And then we found a name that fits that manifesto. And a logo, tagline, and colours that fit with it. All that has been carefully considered.” 

Tell me a bit about the process.

“We started out with a thousand names, and cut it down until we had three names left that we believed had the right sound and structure, and that reflected what we want to be in the future. Of those three ‘Ayvens’ was the preferred one for the taskforce that was working on this. And it was my preference too. As was the case with the new tagline: ‘Better with every move’. That reflects that first of all, we want to make the world a better place – for our customers, for our own people, and for society at large. I think the name and the tagline and the logo work together well.”  

Internally, we were discussing the logo. It looks like a road, but also like the letter A. And like two companies joining forces.

“To be honest, I think it’s a great logo. You can indeed see it in many ways: as two companies coming together, as a road, as a path upwards, and so on. It’s got quite a few things in it.”

The main colour of your new corporate identity is turquoise. Why? 

“We believe that our name and brand reflect something new in the mobility space. Now, if you place all different logos and colours in a quadrant, you’ll see that our new colour puts us where we want to be. Not in the corner with the more conservative players, but in the corner with companies that want to do mobility differently and better. So, the new colour reflects our aim to be a provider of sustainable mobility. And it helps us stand out in a crowded field. By the way, turquoise is the main colour, but we will also be using dark blue, white, and yellow.”

The new name starts with an ‘A’, which is a good alphabetical starting position. But it doesn’t refer directly to automotive, mobility, sustainability, corporates, or other customers. Why is that? 

“ALD and LeasePlan are two very strong brands, but they’re also viewed as traditional leasing and fleet management companies. If you mention any of the words you listed in the new name, you also limit yourself. With the new name, we wanted to move beyond those boundaries. And we didn’t want to use the word ‘mobility’, because to put it bluntly, everybody talks about mobility these days. At the end of the day, we don’t want to do and say what everybody else does.”

What is surprising, then, is the mention of ‘Société Générale Group’ just below the name. Why is that? 

“We don’t use the SocGen logo anymore, because the use of the name itself tested better. Whether corporate or retail customers, there was a very positive reaction to this explicit backing by a major European bank. That endorsement by Société Générale is a link to a past we are proud of, and it’s a name that signals robustness and strength. And of course, SocGen is a majority shareholder in the new company, with the intention to remain a controlling shareholder.” 

Last week, you presented the new branding at an internal meeting for 500 senior execs from all over the world. How did it go down there? 

“How you react to a new name, a new brand: it’s a very personal thing. Some will love it, others may hate it. I expected 40% to say ‘great’, an equal number to not like it, and the rest to be noncommittal. But I have to say judging from the reactions that if you surveyed that room, the new name would have gotten at least 80% instant approval. And this from both ALD and LeasePlan people. Which must mean that the new name, the new branding: it’s doing exactly what it should.”

So Ayvens it is. How are you going to roll out the new identity? Will ALD and LeasePlan disappear immediately? 

“No. As you know, we’ve just started integrating the two companies, and that’s quite a big job. What we’ll do right now is to rebrand the two holding companies. They will become Ayvens. However, all countries will continue to operate under the old brand names up until probably mid or end 2024. So our customers will still get invoices from ALD or LeasePlan. But as soon as we are ready to rebrand the systems in our various countries, we will do so. By the end of next year, the plan is that we will have the whole group rebranded in one go.”

You mentioned the ongoing integration. How is that proceeding? 

“It’s going really well. We had a long time to prepare, and we spent that time preparing well. As you know, LeasePlan is a bank regulated by the ECB and the Dutch regulator. So, some of the more technical integrations will have to wait on their approval. But a lot is already happening: IT systems, processes, organization. We now have a single managing director in each country, and they have appointed their teams. In all, we’ve appointed 500 senior execs. So we have a lot of management capacity, and we’re achieving our synergies according to plan. We’ve started with procurement, and that is going particularly well.”

And how is the market reacting?

“You know, the main thing about this journey we’re on for the next 18 to 24 months, is to have our customers and partners with us. And so far, so good. In fact, according to the survey we completed three weeks ago, customer satisfaction has actually gone up by four percentage points. That’s because the way we have been communicating about this process is really well appreciated. And this is before our customers have experienced the benefits of our merger in full.”

“Now, in terms of the investor market, there has been a bit of a disappointment. We have a new strategic plan, PowerUP 2026, which is a great plan, in which we obviously reset some of our targets. When we did our capital markets day, we noticed some disappointment, in which the extend was a bit of surprise for us. But you know, the markets react in their own way. And now at least the plan is out there.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve been meeting with 50, 60 investors on roadshows. And actually, when you explain the details of the story, they nod and say: It’s still a very good story. So now what they need to see is us managing this integration as we said we would. They want to see the synergies coming, integration going according to plan, and us achieving the numbers we said we will. And when we do, the market will react positively, and we will be back on track – also in terms of value creation.” 

Final question: How many times today have you said ‘ALD LeasePlan’ instead of ‘Ayvens’? 

“(laughs) Very few times, let me think: no, actually, not even once. I was about to send a note to some people, but I didn’t have my new signature yet. So I waited for that before pressing ‘send’. That’s the right reflex, I think. Also, last week when we did the pre-launch internally, in their presentations people switched very easily to Ayvens. It comes naturally. And that’s a good sign.”

Image: Ayvens

Authored by: Steven Schoefs
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