What's in a Name?

The Challenge

Wafra is a financial services firm wholly owned by the Social Security Administration of Kuwait. The firm operates as an international investment platform for this sovereign wealth fund, with $23.1 billion assets under management. Wafra came to CSA for a new brand identity with a particular question in the back of their minds. How loudly or softly should this new brand amplify Wafra’s connection to Kuwait?

My role on this project was to design and deploy the naming assessment, define the brand platform and ensure strategic alignment through the identity design process.

The Tasks

Naming Assessment
The name Wafra caused some consternation at the firm. Often mispronounced, with and all caps logo clients and recruits assumed it was an acronym. On the other hand it has deep strategic meaning, the Arabic word for “abundance,” linking the firm to its heritage and its purpose, creating prosperity for asset owners, sovereign or otherwise, around the world. We designed and conducted a naming assessment, aimed at measuring response to the name Wafra, with and without the direct connection back to Kuwait and the Arabic meaning of the word. The results of this testing lead us to recommend keeping the name Wafra. The benefits of existing internal and industry equity outweighed the minor negative connotations and the meaningfulness of the word offered tremendous messaging opportunity.


Brand Platform
After a robust discovery process including including stakeholder interviews, brand, materials, competitors and peer audits we delivered an insights report and workshop. Activities around personas, values and brand platform guided us to a creative brief as we moved into design.

From this brief a design team lead by Daniel Irizarry created and engaging and modern identity built on the Wafra’s values of collaboration, innovation, heritage and stability.

  • Client: Wafra
  • Agency: Carbone Smolan Agency
  • Role: Strategist
  • Methodologies: Stakeholder Interviews, Desk Research, Competitive Audit, Workshop
  • Launch: Spring 2017