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The Andersen Tax Brand—Bold and Safe

By Joe Walsh
November 5, 2014
The Andersen Tax Brand—Bold and Safe

As a former Andersen partner with a variety of firm marketing responsibilities in my past, I've always been proud of the brand building efforts numerous colleagues achieved at the old Andersen, and before that, the old Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting. For a professional services marketer, it was like being on an all-star team every day of the season.

So I observed, with keen interest, the breaking news earlier this fall that the Andersen brand name emerged from the ashes as Andersen Tax.

The new Andersen Tax was formerly WTAS (Wealth and Tax Advisory Services). The independent tax firm with the ever so descriptive acronym was formed by a group of former Andersen partners more than a decade ago and they've been on a roll ever since. Beyond the extensive front page PR coverage earned with the “new name,” I thought the move was a brilliant brand strategy. Here’s why:

Professional services and b2b marketing has two broad roles: creating awareness and creating preference. The name Andersen Tax makes both immediately easier for the expanding global firm.

1. Awareness. In adopting the Andersen name, even with any lingering negative associations, WTAS earns levels of awareness it could never afford to buy with years of advertising or other affiliated efforts. For example, coverage about the name change appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Washington Post, Financial Times, Accounting Today, NPR, Squawk Box and more. Beyond the Big 4, professional services is a highly fragmented category and awareness is a challenge that plagues leading accounting, law and consulting firms. Problem directionally solved by the move to Andersen Tax.

2. Preference. Once buyers are familiar, they need to consider and choose a firm’s skills and expertise. More awareness and familiarity leads to more consideration and preference. It’s simple accounting. Andersen tax buyers are CFO and tax director types, many of whom are former Big 4 and Andersen partners. Reason and experience suggest these buyers have a certain affinity for the Andersen brand. Andersen Tax has made the leap to preference that much easier.

Summing up, the name adoption is as bold as it is wise. At least to me. My only critique is that the brand communications, reflected in things like the new Andersen Tax website and other marketing communications are safe and mainstream. To my eye, the look and feel of the Andersen Tax brand is not as inspired as the name on its masthead, but perhaps that’s a phase two in the WTAS brand makeover.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing more great things from Andersen Tax in the future.