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April 30, 2008

Grant Thornton turns purple in corporate makeover

A purple Möbius strip symbolising cohesion is the highlight of a new corporate identity unveiled by Grant Thornton International (GTI) this month. The mid-tier network rolled out its first worldwide rebranding exercise in 25 years, which included a makeover to all websites and marketing material.

The brand was created by Pentagram Design and GTI said it cost “significantly less than £500,000 [$984,000]” or about $40 per Grant Thornton employee.

Grant Thornton International global director of marketing communications Jon Geldart said the aim of the corporate refresh is to make the network appear more cohesive in the marketplace. “The physical manifestation of [the old brand] was well understood and had good recall figures around the world. There’s nothing wrong with it but we felt the need to move forward and the need to refresh it before it became tired,” Geldart explained.

“This is about reflecting what we are. We are, and continue to strive to be, a more cohesive global organisation. One way of demonstrating that is in the physical manifestation of the appearance.”

Geldart told IAB that member firms were widely consulted on the redesign throughout the course of the project. “We’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people from front-line junior members of staff to newly appointed partners, senior partners, all the things you would expect us to do,” Geldart said, adding that decision makers had a choice of nearly 300 logo designs at the early stages. “It’s a process of intelligent elimination. What you tend to find is because we were very clear about what we are as an organisation, when we brief the designers they came back with a whole series and range of things that could reflect us.”

The final logo choice is characterised by three main elements: a symbol, a new colour and sans serif text.

The inspiration of the symbol is the Möbius strip, a band that is half-twisted and joined at both ends to form a three-dimensional loop. It was discovered in 1858 by German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius and has several curious properties, including a single boundary. Geldart said the strip, in Grant Thornton’s context, represents the connection between the network and its clients. The twist visually creates four waves, which represent the four major service lines of Grant Thornton’s business: advisory, assurance, tax and privately held businesses.

Another major departure from the old corporate identity is a change of colour from blue to purple. “We’ve adopted that colour because it’s not blue [as is traditionally used in the profession] and for many years [purple] has been associated with dignity and a whole series of other qualities,” Geldart explained.

Grant Thornton firms in Sweden, Botswana and Australia have already embraced the new image while all firms have gone live with a new website. Geldart added: “Some member firms want to spend a little bit more time finalising the running of old stocks. Over the course of the next few months the vast majority of firms will change and by the end of the year they all will change. We’re not doing it for the next three minutes we’re doing it for the next 25 years.”

Arvind Hickman

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