Why branding isn't barmy. By Rob Lewis

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"Significanly less than a million dollars" - Grant Thornton's recent rebrand (new logo on right)

The issue of professional services branding has divided even those who work within marketing themselves. Objective performance metrics are thin on the ground, and opinions on both sides of the argument are often based on rhetoric and intuition. Certainly, within the AccountingWEB community, members generally seem to think its a waste of money.

When the ICAEW re-branded last year at a cost of 65,000, members were almost unanimous that it was so...

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26th Feb 2008 16:26

Goodbye to the blob
The news reminds me of a conversation I had with a new GT marketing person at GT's national training centre at Bradenham Manor almost 20 years ago. She was frustrated because she had tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the partners that they should get rid of the blue GT "blob" that formed part of the logo, on the not unreasonable grounds that most people failed to recognise it for what it was (a G nuzzling up to a T) and it did nothing for the brand. She had a point. I had been employed by the firm for 6 months by then and had failed to spot the G and the T !

Congratulations to Jon G for having acheived the (long overdue) demise of the blob.

Is this the same man who sold Tetleys bitter to the South and trained tax professionals in Cooper & Lybrand Leeds to sell professional services? There is no limit to this man's powers.

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28th Feb 2008 18:25

David W - a joke!
and a good one at that

the new logo fails most of my tests for sucess

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By Anonymous
27th Feb 2008 14:08

Close, But No Cigars Please
"The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has been announced as a runner-up in the ‘Best Rebranding Exercise’ category in this year’s CorpComms Awards. The annual awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Wednesday 28 November, were organised by CorpComms magazine and recognise excellence in corporate communications.

The AAT has set itself ambitious targets to grow its student and membership base nationally and internationally and rebranded in 2006 to help it meet this challenge. A comprehensive review of its brand communications and visual identity was undertaken, resulting in a new mission, vision and values and a new logo and corporate style.

Jane Scott Paul, Chief Executive of the AAT, said: “We’re delighted that the AAT has been recognised in this way. This project was a bold step for us but we are already reaping the rewards. The response rates to our advertising – encouraging new students to join us – are up 69% on their previous best and, in financial terms, we expect to save £15,000 per annum in production costs.”

Jeremy Lankshear, CorpComms awards manager, said: “Our panel of judges were hugely impressed with the quality of entries across all categories for the 2007 Awards, so it is a great achievement to have reached this stage of the competition.”

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By Anonymous
27th Feb 2008 02:07

What are you on about Jon?
When Jon says that it cost, “significantly less than a million dollars” he is using some dodgy accounting and only accounting for the portion he paid Saffron and another firm to do the work. He is not accounting for what it cost the member firms on the ground. That cost is significantly greater than a million dollars and one wonders if it is worthwhile..

When Jon says that, “the brand is the promise you make to your customers and how you fulfil it,” we here all looked at one another. We do not remember any training on how to fulfil the brands promise. There is, however, much in the way of how to use the new logo and the like. Brand = visual here and we believe the press release confirmed that.

C’mon Jon!

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By Anonymous
26th Feb 2008 21:53

Branding works as a signal of business change
As a Director of a design and branding business that thinks very highly of Purple Circle's I have to say that branding CAN make a real difference to any business.

Branding is about highlighting differences, not looking like one of the pack and differentiation in any market is becoming harder with the huge focus on anything branded being good and anyone creating brands being evil.

In our near 20 year experience, the process has to work as follows:

Change the business
Change the branding
Tell the world
Change the world

If you try to do it in any other order it will always fail as customers cannot buy or even comprehend incongruence

If they don't understand who you are and what you do they will keep looking for someone they do understand.

Tell the original investors in Orange (that was going to be called Mictrotel) that branding doesn't work.

Branding isn't the problem, its often the people who are put in charge of implementing rebrands without any real need to do so, other than to make a name in a new role.

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26th Feb 2008 17:55

Old times
I am also an ex-employee of Grant Thornton and have to say that I always thought the old logo very naff. Unfortunately (because I wish my ex-firm and all who sail in her all the best) the new logo and font seems worse and probably distinctly unmemorable. I will remember it for the wrong reasons and fear that the plughole description is most apt though I hope not indicative of the firm's future.

Yes, visits to the training centre at Bradenham were pleasant interludes, with a lovely setting, a friendly barman and (mostly) good food. I remember our interrupting a training session to watch a deer amble across the garden.

I mention all this because I always thought that technically GT were great, especially due to Bradenham. The marketing side always seemed frustratingly behind the times when I was there and it seems it still is. Come on, GT, you can do better.

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26th Feb 2008 13:22

Is it only me?

Is it only me who thinks of something going down the plug-hole when I look at the new Grant Thornton logo?

Are they making a push for insolvency work?

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26th Feb 2008 13:11

Branding on the web
It is true that branding on the web is becoming more and more important, and the ability to pass on what your company is about is something that should be high on any practitioners' agenda.

Branding is name, logos, images and colours, but on the internet, a large emphasis should also be placed on the message - especially for small firms of accountants.

One of the most important section of a small practice website is their 'about us' pages. This is what, in essence, will separate them from the other local firms. It is the section that is most likely to be read just before the visitor decide whether or not to contact the practice. Special attention should therefore be given when writing it, to make sure the practice brand and identity is rightly 'translated'.

Finally, search engines rankings and domain names also play an important role in how a visitor will perceive your brand / practice. If your website has a high position in the search engines, research shows that visitors are more likely to trust you and your brand. So make sure that your site is well positioned for keywords that local businesses are likely to use to try and find an accountants.

Accountant Websmiths

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