Featured cases

Case: Grant Thornton  2008


2008


old logo
THE STORY

Imagine that you lead a strong, proud collaboration of firms in 80 countries, branded with a visual mark that no one much likes (and accordingly, weak in its bonding impact. )  While  still a second-tier player, you aspire to be a "bold, clear and positive leader in chosen markets and within the global accounting profession."  But your visual identity simply is not that of a leader. 

The old mark was indeed weak; but this rebranding was driven almost entirely by strategic imperatives, in part a response to the image hits taken by the accounting profession in the wake of Enron, Worldcom and the like. According to Jon Geldart, who managed the rebranding, a 2005 review of global strategy led the Board to conclude that "we need to create a more cohesive global organization..."  to strengthen, in other words, the global brand umbrella at the local company level. There are many ways, many tools to make help this happen -- one of them is the signature system.

CEO David McDonnell recognized the potential power of a rebranding, and Geldart joined the team in late 2005 in part to set this in motion. At launch, McDonnell put it this way:  "A brand is one of the most powerful tools that an organization can use to communicate accountability and leadership wherever it does business. We have created this new brand to support out global business strategy of demonstrating real leadership within our profession, and becoming a more cohesive global organization."  

Why the symbol, why this soft one, and why purple? Designer Angus Hyland says "They hated their existing mark so much they started to favor losing it altogether, not replacing it; but I persuaded them that in order to engineer a more cohesive global organization, it would be better to replace it with something that was more meaningful, that you could actually attach some equity, some emotion to. Difficult to do that in a logotype alone. You need a mark I think, not just a word. And we wanted a more professional service image, more fluid, less blue-chip and corporate. Gradients made it more fluid, worked well in the electronic world, and gave it a dynamism it would not have had as a solid mark.

"Purple?... as much as anything, to differentiate them in their world, where blue is by far the most conventional. We moved one notch down the color scale toward red. Purple gives them more ownership. The [mobius] form in blue would look much more ordinary; in purple it gives you a lovely mix, from lilac to deep purple."

The symbol-dominant logo is backed by a comprehensive visual system ("our own typography, palette, a library of visual images, company signatures, you name it we have it" says Geldart). The tag line "Audit. Tax. Advisory." encourages member companies to communicate brand scope in a globally consistent way.

Launch was modestly communicated, with day-one global Web site conversions and office unveilings, to be followed with advertising country by country.

And how was it received? Geldart reports "to use a very English phrase, the new identity has been received 'worryingly well.' To my own surprise nobody has said they donít like it. Even though I push Iím not getting any negativity. Our people seem to be up for change."

Transcripts of interviews with brand officer Geldart and Pentagram partner Angus Hyland are available.


CREDITS

Pentagram (UK); Angus Hyland, Creative Partner

 

BONUS PACKAGE

Case background information is available on request


CASE INFO

Submitted by: Tony Spaeth, 9/03/2008
Status: Confirmed by Jonathan Geldart, Global Director for Marketing Communications, 6 March 2008
Category: Support Services
Country (HQ): United Kingdom


MATRIX DATA

DRIVERS

  

TOOLS

Strategic driver: 90%   
Change internal culture
  Enhance pride & confidence
 30%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Visual endorsement
    x  Change event : Medium visibility: Launch event
Change expressed personality
  Renew/refresh public image
 40%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Visual endorsement
    x  Change event : Medium visibility: Launch event
Change perceived composition
  Modify parental 'umbrella' presence
 20%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Visual endorsement
    
Functional driver: 10%   
Design weakness
  Increase visual strength/quality
 10%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Visual endorsement