Just another manic Monday after PwC rebrand

The Bangles had no idea how apt their song title would be for executives of accounting firm PwC, after they decided to rebrand their consulting business after the worst day of the week.

In 2002 the industry was reeling from the Enron scandal, and accounting firms started spinning off their consulting arms to help prove the independence from their core business of auditing.

To aid the sale their own consulting business, they decided to rename it, and asked branding consultants Wolff Olins to lead on the project. This would be no mean feat, with a £75m budget showing the scale of the task.

But to many people’s bewilderment, they landed on ‘Monday’ – and launched with an equally baffling slogan of “Sharpen your pencil, iron your crispy white shirts, set the alarm clock, relish the challenge, listen, be fulfilled, make an impact, take a risk.”

Greg Brenneman, chief executive of PwC’s consulting arm, described the new tag as “a real word, concise, recognisable, global and the right fit for a company that works hard to deliver results.”

That explains that, then.

The bizarre name was announced to employees on the same day it was introduced to the world.

It quickly became the butt of many jokes, with people – including their own staff! – posting the lyrics to Boomtown Rats’ I Don’t Like Mondays to online career sites message boards.

Monday’s launch website was hosted at IntroducingMonday.com. For whatever reason, PwC didn’t register the .co.uk version (which would have cost around £10). Comedy collective b3ta.com didn’t miss a beat and snapped it up, and even uploaded a piece of animation which  (quite literally) stuck two fingers up to Monday with the message “We’ve got your name, la, la, la.”

Monday’s main website was at Monday.com – but again, they didn’t acquire the .co.uk version, which was owned by e-mail provider another.com. Their service enabled anyone to use an email address with an @Monday.co.uk suffix… which had the potential for an even greater PR disaster!

The story gets even more absurd!

PwC paid over £3 million for the name and trademarks of a PR firm that was, inconveniently, called “OneMonday.”

Thankfully just five weeks later the business was bought by ‘Big Blue’ (IBM) who almost immediately dropped the new name.

What does good look like?

Some of the more practical elements jump out immediately… like check that all the URLs are available and purchased! And don’t choose a name that reminds you that the weekend is over.

Creating a brand should – in most cases – always start with research. Leverage it to demonstrate how you’re solving your customer’s problem.

In the case of a rebrand, when you have existing customers and a large employee base, they should all be heavily involved. Brands are often built from the inside out, and should reflect your organisational values. It has to be something that employees are happy to represent and live up to – even more so in a consulting business where your people literally are your product/service – and brand.

Earlier we saw that the new name seemed to be announced to employees and the outside world at the same time – which suggests that they were not involved, and that the internal comms were lacking.

In researching this article I found a great blog post from branding agency MilesHerndon that neatly sums up how to get the rebranding process right. They detail the top five steps:

  1. Always start with research
  2. Communicate effectively with all stakeholders
  3. Document everything
  4. Plan the roll out well
  5. Defend the brand – Lest it die

…and also link to a brilliant case study on Marketing Sherpa detailing best practice on the internal comms side of a rebrand.

Moving forward

The two articles mentioned above show ‘what good looks like’ and if you’re planning a rebrand then they should definitely be studied and memorised.

What other lessons can be learnt from this story? What will you do differently in future?

Just another manic Monday after PwC rebrand | Brand Blunder | Bad Marketing

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Chris Rogers

I curate stories of #badmarketing so marketing professionals and business owners like you can learn from the mistakes of others - and produce better marketing that’s right first time. Bad Marketing also aims to be essential reading for marketers, academics & students – and anyone interested in the challenges of marketing.