You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig, But…

Yesterday I mentioned in passing that Deloitte is considering a rebranding effort, ostensibly to solidify their position as a Consulting Firm rather than an Audit Firm. I can understand the desire to distance yourself from the train wreck that is the auditing business. It’s less a business model than government-sanctioned vehicle for organized crime against investors.

Now comes word that E&Y will also rebrand. Of course, the news leaked in the UK and the global firm denies it. But, it’s probably all a function of the advice they’re getting from their media advisors. Leave it to a bunch of boring accountants to trust the “cool guys” to tell them how to be sexy again. Or maybe they’re soliciting advice from their new lobbying organization. That might be a better choice. At least they know how to spend the firms’ money effectively, rather than on new names and publicity stunts.

Ernst & Young launches rebrand plan
Ernst & Young launches a rebranding project that may see a complete overhaul of the firm’s image. The rebranding is the first by a Big Four firm since Deloitte decided to drop the ‘Touche’ from its name and design a new logo in 2003.

The exercise will not see E &Y change its name, but the firm is considering changing its logo and may revise its current strap line ‘Quality In Everything We Do’. Two separate sources at the UK firm indicated that it would be a worldwide revamp. But the global firm denied any plans, creating confusion as to how advanced the plans are. Details of budgets, timelines and which consultancies have been engaged to advise on the rebranding are also unclear.

The news comes as the firm places renewed emphasis on tightening relationships within its seven area structure and pushing into emerging markets. E&Y reveals today that growth rates in the industry are beginning to cool, as IFRS and Sarbanes-Oxley advisory work ease off.

The firm has grown UK revenues by nearly 50% over the last three years, outperforming its three main rivals, chairman Mark Otty said, but figures for 2006/07 showed that revenues had only grown by 9% to £1.23bn, down on the double-digit growth enjoyed in 2005 and 2006. Profits increased 7% to £328m.

Otty said: ‘For the last 12 months we have given a clear indication that our revenue growth in the UK was going to be reduced from the Sarbanes-Oxley inspired spike of 2006.’ The firm is pinning its growth hopes on financial services, which will be boosted by work on MiFID, and opportunities in emerging markets.

E&Y brought more than 3,000 staff on board and boasts an average of 473 partners. Profits per partner stood at £688,000. The firm stuck to its guns on not paying partners bonuses policy as is favoured by some of the other Big Four firms.

The global firm’s spokesman said: ‘We [always] review the way we present ourselves in the market place – but there are no plans to change our name, logo or strapline.’

Ernst & Young would not be the only major firm or body to pursue a rebranding in recent years. Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the ICAEW have all undertaken branding revamps.

PwC’s infamous attempt to rebrand its consultancy arm as ‘Monday’ saw the firm pump £75m into the project, but fail to secure the internet domain name. The Deloitte ‘green dot’ exercise, commissioned by John Connolly in 2003, was a less traumatic event. The same cannot be said for the ICAEW, which faced criticism for the £65,000 it spent on redesigning its logo.