State Street Global Advisors [SSgA] -(parent company State Street Corp. (NYSE:STT)) will drop the streetTRACKS brand name from its family of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and will consolidate all of its ETFs under the catchier “SPDRs” moniker.
SSgA has always operated its ETFs under an unusual two-brand system. The SPDRs (“spiders”) referred to any fund tied to an S&P index. The name traced its roots back to the first ETF, the Standard and Poor’s Depository Receipts [AMEX: SPY], and included the hugely popular family of “Sector SPDRs” funds. The “streetTRACKS” brand, with its awkward “tT,” referred to funds linked to non-S&P-indexes. That meant primarily funds tied to Dow Jones Wilshire indexes, but also included products like the $8 billion streetTRACKS gold bullion ETF [AMEX: GLD].
With all the funds changing over the SPDRs brand, there will be the somewhat awkward situation of Dow Jones Wilshire indexes linked to the SPDR-brand name. But there’s no denying that the SPDR is a better brand, and investors will likely forget the original meaning of the acronym quickly.
The rebranding will begin January 8, and be completed in stages throughout the year.
"The move toward a unified brand is designed to bring clarity to investors and further distinguish our ETFs," said James Ross, senior managing director of State Street Global Advisors.
This is the second major rebranding of an ETF fund family in the past year, following Vanguard’s decision to give up the unfortunate “VIPERS” moniker and call its ETFs, simply, “Vanguard ETFs.”
As with the Vanguard change, SSgA’s new branding initiative puts an exclamation point on a major re-invigoration of its ETF franchise. After launching SPY, SSgA underinvested in building out its ETF fund family, and let Barclays Global Investors [BGI] steal the limelight (and the assets). Recently, however, SSgA has turned up the heat, launching the first gold bullion ETF, building out a full family of style funds and moving aggressively into the international space. The group recently crossed the $100 billion mark on total assets under management.
SSgA says it will launch a major advertising campaign tied to the rebranding, which suggests its commitment to make a major push in the ETF market.