A few months ago, we asked “What’s in a name change?” SAC Capital, hoping to distance itself from scandal, had just become Point72, prompting discussion of what circumstances make a name change advisable. So when we noticed the revival of a familiar-sounding Andersen Tax, we were immediately intrigued. You may remember the name from Arthur Andersen: the holding company and auditor that failed to report Enron’s institutional and accounting fraud. That was twelve years ago. Now, WTAS, a tax firm led by ex-Arthur Andersen partners, has decided to rename their firm Andersen Tax. But the question is, have those twelve years been enough to ease – or even erase – the Andersen reputation?
A name change is certainly not an easy process: the endeavor can be costly, drawn-out, exhausting and, if not done thoughtfully, can hurt a company more than it helps. But, we noted in an earlier post, “a company that wants to rebrand with a new name should do so to embrace a positive change within the firm, and not to run away from something.”
WTAS seems to have done their due diligence: they commissioned a poll which found that in the US, an overwhelming 83% agreed that the name held attributes of being ethical, though 65% noted it was “a tarnished brand.” Tarnished it may be to some, but if the company embraces its positive attributes, the firm has a chance of building a new reputation for the name. After all, Andersen Tax will stay within the tax consulting domain, steering clear of the auditing that got them into trouble over a decade ago.
This is evident in the firm’s recent advertising, as well as its own website. The new messaging acknowledges that Andersen has a past, but declares that it is focusing on the future. And chief executive Mark Vorsatz is confident: according to the Wall Street Journal, “scandal or no, Mr. Vorsatz says he remains proud of the Andersen name and the values of quality, stewardship and client service he says it stood for.” It’s now up to Andersen Tax to hold strongly to those values, and let time prove the firm’s commitment to them. If this happens, then the resurrection of the Andersen name may well prove to be a stroke of genius.
Some firms change their names to signal a change in their company and brand, while others change their names as a response to a crisis situation. The latter is the case with SAC Capital, which announced on Tuesday that as of April 7th 2014, it will be known as Point72.
The ironic thing about your brand’s image is that you can’t actually see it. Image as it relates to your brand is a metaphor, an idea meant to conjure up the assured sense of truth that comes with witnessing something concrete (and hopefully positive) with your own eyes. Your customers can’t see loyalty, trust, or any other quality, but an effective brand strategy can help them make the connection. First though, you’ll need to learn to see these qualities yourself.
We recently rebranded a $20 billion institutional asset management firm. The client had been spun off from a much larger parent company and was looking to a new brand to ramp up its close rate with prospects. Our research with clients and prospects (and several institutions that had chosen not to hire our client) uncovered…