National Express’ new name is bland and meaningless. Get used to it.

·1-min read
National Express is now Mobico (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)
National Express is now Mobico (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)

Call me old fashioned but I am not a natural fan of company names that have been part of the corporate landscape most or all of my life being dumped for meaningless collections of letters.

So I am feeling quite grumpy about the imminent supplanting of the National Express moniker to make way for “Mobico Group” Ugh. Sounds like a toy brand.

I can see what the branding consultants were shooting for, a bland riff on “mobility” that presumably offends no-one in the languages of the markets the business currently or plans in future to operate in.

And yes I get it that the core UK coach network now makes up only a fifth of the company’s operations and is likely to fall further. And ok, if pressed, I would accept that National Express, a name that only dates back to 1974, is hardly a treasured crown jewels brand like Rolls-Royce or John Lewis. But even so.

The truth is that the success or failure of rebranding exercises like this rides on the performance of the underlying business.

Probably the most notorious example of where it goes wrong was the Post Office’s reinvention as “Consignia” in 2001. The move provoked howls of ridicule and was seen as an attempt to distract from the business’s problems. Sure enough it was reversed 16 months later.

But equally who now remembers that insurance multinational Aviva was known as Norwich Union - a name that dates back to 1797 - as recently as 2009? Mobico will grate with me for a while - but it is probably here to stay