Building brand strength is vital when it comes to the marketing of consumer goods, but it is an equally important indicator of identity in other types of business.
Grant Thornton International, a leading international organisation of accounting and consulting firms unveiled its new global brand identity in February this year.
The new brand was created as part of a three-pronged global initiative, says Jonathan Leong, managing partner, Grant Thornton Hong Kong. He explains that the organisation's aims are to become a more cohesive global organisation, to become a recognised leader in the accounting profession and chosen markets, and to review and strengthen the brand to support this strategy.
Applied to an international organisation of independently managed firms, the idea of a unified identity is particularly compelling. To represent this identity, Grant Thornton's new logo consists of three elements: the symbol, the colour and the Grant Thornton "wordmark".
The circular symbol is an adaptation of the Mobius strip, a surface with only one side and only one boundary component discovered by mathematicians in the 19th century. "This symbol is a continuous band that looks three-dimensional", says Mr Leong, adding that it can be interpreted as global and permanent, yet flexible. These are all attributes that mark the organisation's goal of becoming a cohesive worldwide organisation. The colour purple, meanwhile denotes leadership, dignity and governance, he further explains.
Grant Thornton has spared no detail in the pursuit of a meaningful yet visually simple identity. To accurately represent the organisation, even the font used was meticulously selected. The organisation's wordmark is in sans serif, a modern and accessible typeface, which is easier to read on screen and more easily rendered in non-Roman character sets.
The new Grant Thornton brand aims to have a "bold, clear and positive" tone of voice. This description also summarises the values of the organisation's member firms. "The way we speak is different. We are bold and keen to speak out on issues of public interest, in a clear and different tone," Mr Leong elaborates. "The global accounting profession needs competent leaders who are prepared to speak out. Our new brand is another important step in differentiating Grant Thornton in the marketplace."
The key role of the new brand is to assure all Grant Thornton stakeholders that the organisation's values extend beyond regional barriers. "Through our websites, written or electronic communications, and even face-to-face meetings, our colleagues and stakeholders will be aware that Grant Thornton's quality of people has always been our strength," Mr Leong remarks.
While having adopted a worldwide identity, Grant Thornton's new brand initiative also reflects its service to clients in Hong Kong and mainland China. Significantly, the organisation has introduced a bilingual logo for both regions.
"With a clean and fresh new image, we keep up with the fast-growing mainland China market. Our goal is for Grant Thornton to be associated with professional service, expertise, integrity and all the other elements that distinguish us as a recognised leader," says Mr Leong. "Our cohesive global network can benefit enterprises wishing to enter the mainland market or Chinese companies planning to explore the international markets."
While using its local knowledge to serve regional clients, the new brand will also be able to offer insights based on its extensive global network.
With more than 2,400 partners worldwide, Grant Thornton offers clients a wealth of knowledge and experience. The launch of a new, unified brand identity is also the perfect tool to align individual firms' values under a membership structure where firms operate independently of each other.
Reinforcing the value of this new identity, Mr Leong stresses, "Our clients receive distinctive and personalised service from Grant Thornton here in Hong Kong and mainland China and rightly expect the same level of quality when they use Grant Thornton firms anywhere in the world." As businesses increasingly compete on a global scale, the need for reliable global partners becomes increasingly crucial.
Grant Thornton Hong Kong was establishment in 1949 as a traditional accounting firm. Nearly 60 years on, the firm has become one of the leaders in the field of professional audit, tax and specialist advisory services in Hong Kong and mainland China. Now the new global initiative will help the firm align its knowledge and experience with global counterparts to create professional synergies to the even greater benefit of its clients.