You need research. Yes, even you.

The fact that I have studied Accenture in not one, not even two, but every single one of my FOUR marketing classes should say something – especially for a brand that makes its money on consulting (not the sexiest business in the world.) Here’s the back story: Accenture started as part of Arthur Andersen and broke out as ‘Andersen Consulting.’ A case study on the company notes, “It was widely credited for being the first professional services firm to advertise aggressively” (355.) However, it fought (and won) the chance to separate from its parent company. The only problem? It had to come up with a new name. And this global giant, which had dumped millions into building a brand, had four months to do it. It needed all the aggressive marketing it could get.

First, the company did research in the field to measure its brand equity against competitors. This research showed the company where it stood out in the marketplace and where competitors were better (Case, 362.) This research proved vital in moving ahead with a rebranding, especially on such a short timescale.

Accenture worked with Young & Rubicam to create a teaser advertising campaign to promote the brand, which was launching Jan 1. The campaign played off of the binary code in the launch date (01.01.01), which spoke to its IT audiences, but also let the public know to expect a change on Jan. 1.

It picked the brand name through an internal competition – employees were encouraged to submit ideas, which were then researched for trademark, global usage and customer mindset.The use of research allowed Accenture to find a brand name that could span a global audience and still resonate with its customer base. The internal competition was a great way to launch the brand internally and get the buy-in of the entire company.

The market performance of the new brand was evident – “At the end of 2001, one year after the launch of the new brand, the awareness for Accenture name remained at, or above, previous levels for Andersen Consulting in most countries” (Case 368.) In addition, the firm became an IPO in 2001, and in a down market increased its share price 80 percent (Case, 369).

Accenture’s rebrand was clearly a success. The company focused first on understanding its brand – where it fit into the marketplace and how it was viewed by consumers on is own as well as against competitors. That understanding, coupled with aggressive advertising, allowed Accenture to not only transfer its brand equity, but to increase upon that equity. By proactively creating a brand and reinforcing that brand through advertising, Accenture was able to stay out ahead of the marketplace not only for its name rebrand, but for additional challenges in the market.

If a huge company that spans the globe can manage to rebrand in four months while still conducting research – what’s the excuse for the rest of us?

Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Best Practice Cases in Branding: Lessons from the World’s Strongest Brands (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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