CXO

Big Fives' names offer path of least resistance

Amidst the splits and shuffles among the Big Five consultancies, reports of name changes are raising the eyebrows of insiders. Columnist Tom Rodenhauser sounds off on this branding issue.


Of all the daffy outcomes relating to Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting’s split, the most bizarre involve reports—like the one that appeared in the August 28 Wall Street Journal—that Arthur may adopt AC’s name for its consulting division. Imagine: Andersen Consulting lives!

Now granted, founding partners who leave to start competing firms usually relinquish naming rights; Bill Bain modestly adopted his own moniker rather than call it BCG II when he bolted from Bruce Henderson’s bunch more than 30 years ago.

But recasting a Big Five consultancy represents a much greater challenge. In the olden days, firms reached a civil (and pronounceable) compromise: remember Ernst & Ernst and Arthur Young? Consolidation brought about equality. Firms now feel compelled to play a gallant game of “No, you go first.” Cap Gemini will milk the E&Y brand for as long as possible—or at least four years—with the breath-depleting Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Consulting. My gosh, what happens if Hewlett-Packard buys PricewaterhouseCoopers? Grab the oxygen tank.

On the other hand, you can’t call yourself something you’re not. Yes, Arthur owns the “Andersen” name. And Andersen Consulting will be called something different—probably a hip, techno, cutting-edge name that evokes a Greek god—come January 1. From Arthur’s perspective, we hope sanity prevails and it avoids an avoidable embarrassment. Otherwise, like a faded Nora Desmond calling for her close-up, Arthur Andersen will look foolish trying to co-op a brand that has no bearing on its own business.

Heard on the street
The revolving door at razorfish makes us wonder. Michael Pehl’s resignation as president is mildly surprising. Despite the gushy rhetoric when he took the position, it’s not uncommon for a CEO-hired-through-acquisition to chafe at being number two. And Pehl is the second boardroom executive to leave in six months, following Lawrence Begley’s departure as CFO. Both cited personal and family reasons. By most accounts, razorfish CEO Jeff Dachis has Larry Ellison-like charisma, which may create executive friction. Another chief-level departure and you wonder how many ‘fish investors will decide to cut bait.
Inside Consulting is written by Tom Rodenhauser as a free weekly supplement to The Rodenhauser Report. The report informs senior advisors and business executives of consulting trends and best practices. Subscription cost is $295 per year for 10 issues. Copyright 2000, Consulting Information Services, LLC. Reproduction is prohibited. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.

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