Consulting moves towards own brand

Andersen Consulting struck an independent pose last week after it announced a global brand image distinct from its sister firm, Arthur Andersen.

Consulting, locked in a bitter divorce battle with its sibling over issues of governance and profit sharing, said it was creating a ‘brand signature’ that allowed the firm to ‘more sharply define who we are, what we stand for and how we want the world to see us’.

Consulting managing partner George Shaheen said the firm would use the brand ‘to promote its insights, practical know-how and integrated capabilities as a way of further differentiating its consulting offer’.

He said the firm would use a jingle for all adverts and commit #60m annually to ‘image spending’ from next year.

But the move was widely seen as part of the firm’s preparations for divorce and the possibility that it will lose rights to the Andersen name.

Consulting filed for the split last December, after it alleged that Arthur Andersen was encroaching on its consulting business in breach of internal agreements. It also claimed profit-sharing arrangements were tilted in favour of the accounting firm, which technically ‘owns’ the entire firm and wins a majority of seats on the board of the holding operation, Andersen Worldwide.

The two firms are in arbitration meetings at the Paris-based International Chambers of Commerce.

If Shaheen fails to prove Consulting owns the rights to its name, it can revert to the Ac logo, said one observer. ‘Win or lose in the divorce battle, Shaheen obviously wants to minimise the damage and this is one way he can do that,’ he said.

The two-letter logo contrasts with the recently inaugurated 22-letter name for the merger of Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse, following instead the trend by major plcs towards acronyms.

A senior executive at a rival firm said any move away from the Andersens name could be disastrous. ‘All the brand value is in the name, which is why they are fighting over it in Paris.’

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