Deloitte Consulting has looked to the past to name its future. The company has announced that it will become Braxton after its separation from parent company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The division is expected to take place before the end of 2002. The new name is taken from Braxton Associates, a firm Deloitte acquired in 1984.
The strategy behind the new name is directly opposite that of PwC Consulting, which announced its decision to rename itself Monday, prior to IBM’s decision to acquire the consultancy. The Monday name drew an immediate and somewhat unpleasant reaction. Comparisons between the opposing strategies have been the subject of many columnists, analysts, and netizens. Even Deloitte took a swipe at Monday in its animated introduction to its new name (see Figure A).
We combed the Web for reports about Deloitte’s choice to find out what the experts are saying. We also interviewed Rob Leavitt, the director of member advocacy for the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), about the change. Here’s an overview of their opinions and comments.
|Deloitte Consulting mocks Monday, PwC Consulting’s new name.|
About the name, Leavitt said, “It’s certainly not a home run, but it is a safe choice.” Leavitt was complimentary of the company’s positioning strategy. He said Braxton is trying to recapture the old virtues of consulting with a human voice. The advertising and Web site contain no rhetoric and buzzwords. He said it’s a good strategy for differentiating the company from other consultancies—like Accenture and Monday—in the consulting market.
“They’re not running away from the idea of consulting,” he said. “They’re trying to present a very straightforward, no-nonsense, client-comes-first attitude.”
Leavitt said Andersen Consulting’s switch to the name Accenture was a success because its branding campaign combined a sustained marketing effort with an emphasis on delivering value to its customers. The challenge for Monday and Braxton will be in defining themselves within the market and living up to their promises.
One small glitch in the plan
Braxton may confuse some clients who try to access online information about the firm. A small manufacturing firm had already set up shop at www.braxton.com. The company’s official Web address will be www.braxtonglobal.com.
“The first thing I did, of course, when I heard that was to look up braxton.com, Leavitt said. “That’s a little glitch, I think.”
Analysts’ and media views
By avoiding the trend toward catchy, or curious, brand names, Braxton conveys a sense of stability and longevity, according to Gartner analysts Lorrie Scardino and Frances Karamouzis. Also, the company will spend significantly less for its branding efforts than Andersen Consulting did when it became Accenture, and less than PwC had planned to spend rebranding itself as Monday (see Table A).
The firm’s Web site says the name represents “a welcome return to common sense and a departure from the increasingly predictable tendency toward coined, invented, and whimsical corporate names.” That return to common sense may have cost the company the kind of buzz that Monday achieved. The media seems to have been much quieter about the announcement of the Braxton name as compared to that of Monday, and even Accenture.
While most media outlets provided straight reporting of the name change, Lester Haines of The Register provided some commentary on the subject. He said Braxton sounds more like a brand of mineral water than a consultancy. Haines wished the firm good luck with its new moniker and found a silver lining in the return to more normal branding strategies.
“One spin-off benefit of this radical approach to rebranding is that it might see the end of brainstorming PR yuppies tirelessly rolling out exciting image realignment strategy PowerPoint presentations to bewildered corporations,” he wrote.
Compared to the outcry over Monday, folks in the trenches were much less extreme in their opinions about Braxton. Perhaps one poster to the Vault.com message boards summed it up best when he said, “I think everyone had such a feeling of dread over the horrible naming possibilities that Braxton is a wonderful relief.”
Some of those discussing the new name mentioned the fact that women’s prelabor contractions are called Braxton Hicks. “Do you suppose when Braxton lays people off, they will call it a ‘Braxton-Hicks contraction?’” asked one pessimistic poster.
Who’s next in the name game?
While it remains to be seen whether Braxton, PwC Consulting, or Accenture will be plagued by further staff cuts, Gartner predicts that the name game will continue in the consulting arena. The research firm predicts that by 2004 the two remaining big players—KPMG Consulting and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young—will also rebrand; they’ll do so based on the client and market reactions to both Monday and Braxton. “Gartner believes that a back-to-basics naming approach will likely better fit the traditional consulting and IT services market.”
Who has the best branding strategy?
Would the Monday buzz have given PwC Consulting a jump start in creating its space in the marketplace, or will CxOs be more likely to trust a company named Braxton? Will the name make any difference in the long run? Post your thoughts in the discussion below.