s in any industry, there are certain financial providers that sit head and shoulders above their rivals. These kinds of companies are innovative, perhaps even disruptive – their image is slick and beautifully presented, and their communications are flawless. Unsurprisingly, their incredible reputation attracts the best industry talent, too. So what is it about these companies that sets them apart from all other contenders? Well, their success is usually down to their immaculate branding.
What makes a ‘good’ accountancy brand?
Prosperous, profitable financial brands never rest on their laurels where their brand image is concerned. These organisations will always have a knowledgeable team of creatives behind them who are consistently working to ensure that all elements of the brand reflect the company’s core values.
A strong accountancy brand will have the following:
· A clear message
· An in-depth understanding of their target audience
· A distinctive competitive edge
· A unique style and tone within their content
· A simple yet attention-grabbing logo, backed by consistent graphics and familiar brand colours
· A passion for delivering exceptional customer service
· An ability to lead, not just to follow
Exploring the approaches of today’s industry leaders
Bearing in mind the above criteria, we carried out a review of some of the biggest names in the finance industry to identify exactly what makes these brands so irresistible.
Read on to learn more about five of the UK’s accounting giants, and how they are using branding and design to fantastic effect.
Known as one of the ‘Big Four’ auditors, London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers claims that its purpose is “to build trust in society and solve important problems”. What’s impressive is that these core values are being reflected beautifully in the company’s branding.
PwC decided to refresh its visual identity way back in 2010. After being referred to as both PricewaterhouseCoopers and PwC for decades, the company formally shortened its name for consistency and ease of use – two traits that, when combined, lead to greater trust in a brand. Next, they simplified the logo font to ITC Carter and lowered the case of their new three-letter moniker in an attempt to give it a more aproachable look and feel (and also clearing up any confusion as to which letters need to be capitalised, solving a long-standing problem amongst all stakeholders).moreroachable look and feel (and also clearing up any confusion as to which letters need to be capitalised, solving a long-standing problem amongst all stakeholders).
PwC also decided to completely overhaul their colour palette during their rebrand, shunning the typical blues and greens of financial firms and choosing instead to work with a warmer blend of reds, oranges and yellows. It was a bold move, but one which made sure that PwC immediately stood out from its largest rivals.
Deloitte is one of the financial industry’s biggest success stories. Originally founded in 1845, it’s since grown to become the largest professional services network in the world.
Perhaps taking the lead from PwC, the company underwent a brand refresh fairly recently in June 2016. The organisation didn’t make any huge changes to its image, simply choosing Open Sans as its new lead font and opting to transfer the typeface on the logo to black instead of blue. Deloitte’s communicators have found a new confidence, too, thanks to re-established writing guidelines.
AmyFuller, Senior Managing Director for Global Branding at the financial powerhouse, said of the rebranding exercise in her own release that her company wanted to create a “single brand architecture and identity system so that regardless of where a client is geographically, or what business they interact with… they have a consistent and meaningful Deloitte experience”.
So despite decades in business, it seems that Deloitte is still most interested in delivering excellence to their clients. In our opinion, that’s the hallmark of a great brand.
Until now, it’s typically been known as a mid-tier provider. But Grant Thornton UKLLP has made no secret of the fact that is has been keen to position itself as a ‘challenger’ brand – ie, a company that is fighting bigger corporations and hoping to claim a bigger market share by offering a refreshing experience to customers.
GrantThornton’s clean, approachable, slogan-driven logo and soft design palette definitely ensures that the firm looks different to its competitors – but its approach to branding extends well beyond just its visuals.
In fact, the firm is famed for its award-winning company culture. Chief MarketingOfficer John Harmeling focused on boosting employee engagement by strengthening bonds between his teams, and as a result has crafted a friendly, slightly off-beat approach towards accounting that appeals to customers who are fazed by the “sameness” of other (bigger) financial brands.
The marketing team at Grant Thornton spotted a niche and adapted their offering to take on a new position in their market. In their case, making the conscious decision to go against the grain has turned them into a true industry contender.
Ernst & Young (EY)
Ernst& Young – as it has been known since 1989 – is another one of the ‘BigFour’ financial consultancy firms that specialises in managing the affairs of publicly traded companies.
Much like pwc, Ernst & Young made the bold move back in 2013 to shorten its name to simply EY in order to “provide consistency and ease of use for EY practices and clients around the world.” Along with the abbreviation, the business unveiled a new block-grey logo, a distinctively contemporary update to the somewhat hieroglyphically-angled moniker from before, which contained an abstract interlocking E and Y. Perhaps most interestingly of all, the brand also decided to make more prominent use of a new strap line: Building a better working world.
The only element retained from EY’s original identity is the yellow beam that sits above the monogram.
EY’s major rebrand was met with mixed reviews from agencies and design commentators, but you have to admire the company for maintaining its authority by brazenly bringing its image up to date. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, after all.
RSM is a global group that used to boast dozens of member firms, one of which was home grown brandBaker Tilly. In June 2015, the company chose to unite all of its sub-businesses under one brand, doing away with individual names and adopting a new, clearer identity across the board.
WhatRSM has done extremely well is consolidate all of its various businesses to ensure it can use all of its resources and expertise for stronger, long-term growth. RSM has, seemingly effortlessly, turned what was a rather fragmented portfolio of businesses into a collective that appears strong and capable. The company’s messaging is much clearer, and clients from all member firms can now rest assured that they are receiving the same quality of service, regardless of the team that’s working on their project.
Is your business ready to compete with these leading accountancy brands?
Sure, these five companies are a tough act to follow – but there’s no reason why you can’t apply some of their branding acumen to your own enterprise.
What’s particularly interesting is that all of the top accountancy brands listed here have never been afraid to shake up their company image in order to keep up with evolving practices. Clearly, the benefits of rebranding often far outweigh the risks!
So if you’ve been considering changing your accountancy firm’s corporate identity for a while, these brand stories may inspire you to take action. Contact Prosper to discover how we can help you take those important first steps towards establishing your business as one of the best brands in the country.
Written by Ben Stanbury