Giant German insurer Allianz has admitted that the Cornhill brand could be scrapped within five years. The company is drawing up a set of rules for evaluating which is its strongest brand in each market and will use this strict test to decide when to switch to the Allianz brand.

Giant German insurer Allianz has admitted that the Cornhill brand could be scrapped within five years.

The company is drawing up a set of rules for evaluating which is its strongest brand in each market and will use this strict test to decide when to switch to the Allianz brand.

Allianz marketing chief Michael Maskus said local managers would have to use the rules to decide whether to continue with their own brand or switch to Allianz.

But neither he nor UK broker and marketing executive Doug Pennycuick could confirm that the Cornhill brand would still be around in five years. Asked specifically, Pennycuick could only manage: "Possibly."

But the death-knell appears to have been sounded for the Cornhill brand. Cornhill has used the Allianz name in its UK-based global risks business for nine years and this year introduced it for all UK commercial business. Internally, the company this month launched an Allianz share-buying scheme to its staff, further endorsing the Allianz brand. Its UK and international advertising is aimed at winning awareness for the Allianz name.

The parent company has also launched a massive sponsorship programme with the Williams Formula One team, badging the car with the Allianz name and only adding the Cornhill name in UK races.

As part of the deal Cornhill pulled out of its 23-year cricket sponsorship and French subsidiary AGF dropped its Tour de France sponsorship. Allianz uses its name in most competitor cricketing countries and in cycle-mad Europe and did not want to confuse its customers.

"With the UK we will use the Cornhill brand to endorse Allianz," said international corporate marketing manager Matthias Gruen. "In advertising we use the local brand first and then introduce the global brand. The local companies have a very good role to play to endorse this global company."

The company has also recently been listed on the US stock market, giving its own name a much higher profile among share buyers and analysts. It also uses its AAA Standard & Poor's and A++ AM Best rating to boost its image among the industry.

In Spain, a recent merger of three companies led to the use of the Allianz name. And the company will shortly issue guidelines to country managers on when to switch to the Allianz brand. The company admitted it was already looking at Switzerland, where it owns three brands and to Italy where it runs six different brands.

"We will fight to reduce the number of brands. If you talk in Europe about one currency, one community, it makes sense. We are just preparing the information base for top managers, but it will be country-by-country decisions," said Maskus.

The only hope for the Cornhill brand appears to be if it stays as the company's direct brand, with all broker business shifting to the Allianz brand. But the company could not even confirm this.