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Leader: Baker Tilly’s naming nerves

THERE’S ALWAYS A FAD. Generally, they’re pretty transient and meaningless, like football stickers, Pokémon cards and yo-yos.

Sometimes, though, they’re a very big deal indeed. Last year, in accountancy, it was mergers and acquisitions, and this year, it is names and brands.

By that admittedly quite esoteric yardstick, Baker Tilly must seem like the coolest firm going, after all, it could legitimately claim to have been at the forefront of both.

Its acquisition of RSM Tenon has led to a significant amount of change, and its decision to leave its eponymous network Baker Tilly International in favour of Tenon’s RSM is just the latest in a slew of swingeing transformations.

It opted to join the network in April. It’s October now, and ostensibly, we’re still none the wiser what’s happening with its name and brand. In that time, Baker Tilly International has replaced its namesake firm with MHA MacIntyre Hudson, maintaining its UK presence.

What we do know is Baker Tilly will have made a decision on its name by the New Year, and there are a few options at their disposal.

One option would be to call itself RSM Baker Tilly – it still owns the Baker Tilly brand, after all. This, however, seems clunky and pointless. Baker Tilly’s ownership of its own brand name also seems to be causing obfuscation.

The firm could, quite simply, become RSM UK. That seems relatively straightforward, if unimaginitive.

Another, more interesting option, would be for the ‘big dog’ brand that sits within RSM, that of US member firm McGladrey, to have its moniker used to rebrand the whole network…which would open up a number of possibilities for Baker Tilly’s new name. It might also explain why this has dragged on for so long, if RSM is itself having an existential crisis. That change, too, would help drive access to the US market.

Baker Tilly could, of course, go for something completely different.

In times of clarity, choosing a name should be a natural process, and the hold-up suggests a huge amount of importance is being placed on the branding, for the future of the UK firm and the network.

Calum Fuller is reporter for Accountancy Age

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