How would you define “brand identity”? For some, it would center on the visuals, like a logo and website. For others, it’s more about the personality that is projected by the brand, including marketing campaigns and messaging.
Ultimately, brand identity encompasses all of that, and more.
For an accounting firm, an accurate brand identity is vital. Any business that works within the financial sector thrives on being trusted and sought after by the target audience. For the top firms, it’s not just about designing an accounting firm logo with a message of promise to your audience. It’s also about positioning your firm as the best in the business.
Let’s take a look at five top accounting firms worldwide and what we can glean from their brand identity.
One of the most well-known names in the field, Deloitte is also one of the leaders in the industry — and the branding makes it clear.
In this instance, the most obvious direction of the branding is giving clarity to Deloitte’s wide experience. From the homepage to the “About Us” section, Deloitte’s content focuses on the importance of evolution to meet circumstances and changes. Adaptation is the reason for their survival, and the content hits hard on experience, capitalizing on this to offer extensive consulting services to their clientele.
Lessons for us: Make sure that your content hits the high notes of your brand and sends the right message. Don’t hide your light under a basket; make your specialty areas and expertise clear and obvious from beginning to end.
PwC operates out of the United States, offering US-based tax services and other accounting services. The main website features an exceptionally user-friendly interface and an early focus on “How PwC Can Help.”
PwC’s logo, unusually for many accounting firm logos, is in shades of warm orange and yellow, with a unique but simple geometric design. The colors of the logo are an excellent pop of color in the website design, and draw the eye; there’s no doubting what accounting firm website you’re visiting.
Lessons for us: PwC makes itself inviting in a number of ways. From the visual aspects to the UX and UI, it’s accessible and appealing. Choose visuals and design elements that motivate your visitor to take the next step.
Ernst & Young
Perhaps at the opposite end of the spectrum, this accounting firm is striking for its darkness and the depth of the colors and other visuals.
Overall, the site is clean, simple, and highly professional. It’s much less warm and inviting than PwC’s site, but that’s okay — Ernst & Young is more focused on a professional demographic, offering specialized and expert services to other businesspeople. It’s a largely business-based approach for a business-based brand.
Lessons for us: Tailor your brand identity to the brand’s target audience. Don’t try to make one fit the other if they just don’t harmonize. The viewer will know that the brand identity is being shoehorned in. This illustrates the importance of knowing your audience well, and ensuring that you understand what appeals to them.
On another visual-related note, branding decisions are often motivated by trends — and blue is a big trend in the financial sector.
There’s a reason for this, though. According to the psychology of color, blue is one of the most soothing, trustworthy colors. Marketers and graphic designers capitalize on that perception to send a message that their brands are worthy of confidence and trust. Especially in the instance of an accounting firm, confidence and trust are big selling points.
KPMG’s brand designers know this, obviously, and the simple logo and other branding elements liberally utilize a straightforward royal blue.
Lessons for us: As a brand identity designer, look at trends in your market — but, more importantly, look at the reasons behind those trends. No professional ever advises doing something just because everyone else is doing it, and in branding, that can actually cut down on effectiveness. But some trends exist for a reason, and smart branding can leverage that for the good of the firm.
Our final example is RSM, which is a great example of the importance of messaging, as well as the delivery system for that messaging. Specifically, the tagline.
Taglines have fallen out of favor in a lot of different areas, but they can really be effective in hammering home brand identity. They’re a quick, pithy way of distilling the brand in a way that is both appealing and motivating.
RSM uses the tagline “The power of being understood.” In a few simple words, the firm makes a connection with the audience that can be swiftly built on. Everyone wants to be understood — RSM’s tagline implies that, not only do they understand that, they can provide that feeling as part of their services.
Taglines are excellent ways to make the most of your branding visuals by tying an appeal to the audience directly to your firm’s name and reputation.
Lessons for us: Taglines aren’t for everyone, but they definitely shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Analyze your brand identity and see whether it would benefit from inclusion of a tagline. As you develop the tag content, stick to short words, appeals to common ground, and emotional ties that your audience will understand.
David Anderson is a business graduate with a marketing major. He specializes in communication design and has helped many brands achieve their goals in marketing communication. Now he writes for freelance clients on topics related to brand design, visual communication, and marketing.