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Citigroup to sell logo to St. Paul Travelers

February 14, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Citigroup Inc. decided it was better off without Sanford Weill's umbrella.

The parent of Citibank said Tuesday that it would sell its red umbrella trademark to insurance company St. Paul Travelers Cos. and operate under the Citi brand name after failing to get most consumers to think of anything except insurance when they saw the 137-year-old symbol.

The deal reunites the Travelers name with a logo that consumers still associate with the insurer and the slogan, "You're better off under the umbrella."

The umbrella was a favorite of Weill, the onetime head of Travelers who engineered a 1998 merger with Citicorp and then put the image on a wide array of financial products to build consumer awareness. It didn't work, according to customer research cited by both companies.

"It really is quite remarkable how many times people would come back and either say it's Travelers or the Travelers Insurance umbrella," said Jay Fishman, chief executive of St. Paul Travelers.

St. Paul Travelers plans to change its name to Travelers Cos. after the transaction is completed in March. Terms weren't announced.

New York-based Citigroup spun off Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in 2002 while keeping the umbrella logo.

The banking company's new Citi logo will be silver with a red arch over the last three letters. Its consumer bank will keep its blue logo.

"For the first time since the creation of Citigroup, we will present a unified brand to our clients around the world," CEO Charles Prince said in a memo to employees.

Citigroup owns Citibank, brokerage Citi Smith Barney and other financial businesses.

Prince has been under pressure from investors to boost the company's performance and stock. The shares rose 28 cents to $53.71 on Tuesday.

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