Determining a brand linkage strategy for a global professional services firm
A multi-billion dollar global professional services firm had recently committed to a master brand strategy, but had not yet fully embraced the implications that resulted from it. Specifically, the brand strategy had been built on the premise of a multidisciplinary approach, yet in the eyes of clients, the brand stood for only one discipline. To complicate matters, the individual business functions (e.g. audit, tax, consulting), industry verticals, and other organizational entities within the firm had been delivering messages to the market that were markedly different from one another, and at times, inconsistent with the master brand positioning. Their challenge was to determine the optimal brand architecture model for the organization and to refine the brand positioning to ensure compatibility with the business strategy.
A project team led by a current FullSurge partner in a previous role fielded qualitative research among current, former, and prospective clients, and other relevant internal and external stakeholders. The objective of the research was to define the optimal relationship that the business functions and practice areas should have with the master brand. The research supported the team’s ingoing hypothesis that in order to better align the business and brand strategies, the firm needed to migrate toward a “Branded House” architecture. The project team also identified several important exceptions to a pure Branded House architecture that provided the flexibility required to build strong equity within individual business functions. From a positioning perspective, function-specific “translations” of the master brand positioning were crafted for each of the four primary business functions. These translations remained true to the master brand positioning while also increasing relevance for its specific business area. Finally, a comprehensive set of tools was created to support consistent delivery of the brand strategy across all levels of the organization.
The new brand architecture effectively supported the organization’s transition from functional silos to a fully integrated organization. It also provided the ability to use entity-specific messaging to help build credibility for the firm’s “non-legacy” functions. From a financial and operational perspective, the new architecture resulted in a significant reduction in marketing investment and increased efficiency in the area of brand management. Perhaps most importantly, from a market perspective, the simplicity of the new brand architecture helped create a strong and consistent client experience and reinforce the firm’s position as a world-class professional services provider.