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Divorced Andersen readies a new name

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Next month, Andersen Consulting will announce its new corporate identity—picking one name from a closely guarded list of a dozen—and then start a $100 million global marketing campaign on Jan. 1 to promote it.

When an arbitrator in Paris this summer finalized the split of Andersen Consulting and Arthur Andersen Inc., it ended a nasty and drawn-out proceeding. One ruling stipulated that Andersen Consulting, the consulting unit, pay Arthur Andersen, the tax, audit and consulting company, about $1 billion—far less than the more than $14 billion Arthur Andersen had sought. But another ruling stipulated that Andersen Consulting give up its name, one of the most esteemed in global business.

Andersen Consulting executives confirmed last week that with the aid of Landor Associates, an identity firm in San Francisco, they had narrowed the list of new names to a dozen finalists.

Regardless of the choice, the firm will keep its brand reputation and improve upon it, declared James E. Murphy, Andersen Consulting’s global managing director-marketing. He emphatically denied that replacing the Andersen name would prove difficult.

“That’s nonsense. Twelve years ago, it didn’t have any meaning. Now it’s the biggest in the business,” Murphy said. (Andersen Consulting was created in 1989. The predecessor of its former parent, Andersen Worldwide, started in the 1950s.)

“It’s not like we don’t have the credentials,” Murphy said. “Now, we want to transfer the equity that we have built into that name and brand it to a new name.”

With or without its current name, Andersen Consulting is still the world’s largest independent consultancy, with 65,000 employees in 48 countries. And it has more deftly than any of its Big 5 rivals adapted to the Internet, with success in businesses ranging from venture capital investing and dot-com incubating to technology company joint ventures.

What’s in a name?

Still, corporate identity experts said a good deal of branding power will be lost without the Andersen moniker. “They’re being forced to walk away from a huge asset,” said Steven Addis, CEO of Addis, a branding firm in Berkeley, Calif. “There are very few cases where a company has jettisoned a name with that much heritage.”

Andersen Consulting insiders were reluctant to speak on the record. But one, who asked not to be identified, indicated that it would not include the word “consulting.” “What we’ve found is that ‘consulting’ might not reflect the business we’re in today,” the source said.

The contention rings true. Andersen Consulting today as much resembles a conglomerate of new economy businesses as it does a management consultancy. The firm’s recent projects include Avanade Inc., a software-geared company it formed with Microsoft Corp. Andersen Consulting’s investing unit, AC Ventures, is becoming a major behind-the-scenes player in b-to-b VC, taking sizeable stakes in companies such as Biztro Inc. and B2Emarkets Inc. And Andersen Consulting’s business-launch centers, which assist Internet companies in the start-up phase, are getting good reviews, especially among the European dot-com set.

While Andersen Consulting still provides nontechnical business advice to companies in industries ranging from insurance to oil, itsfocus increasingly lies in counseling on Internet strategies.

Murphy said that Andersen Consulting intends to reflect its evolving business model in its new name and marketing efforts. “The issue isn’t just the name, it’s repositioning the firm,” he said.

What a tease

Andersen Consulting has already begun doing just that. It introduced a teaser advertising campaign during the Sydney Olympics, running TV ads that allude to its impending campaign and name. “Renamed. Redefined. Reborn,” say the ads. The same message is being adapted to all Andersen Consulting’s current marketing projects.

The Jan. 1 advertising campaign, created by Young & Rubicam Inc., will be an integrated affair, consisting of TV, print, online and outdoor ads. Other details—for example, the duration of the campaign or itspotential spokespeople—are nowbeing decided. The name-picking process has been painstaking. “We’ve looked at thousands of names and narrowed it down to dozens of finalists,” Murphy said.

Murphy and others at Andersen are optimistic that its ad campaign will accurately convey its new business model and name. Perhaps it will. But certainly the firm’s bean counters must be upset at the $100 million price tag. Only 24 months ago, the firm launched a $100 million marketing campaign to trumpet the “Andersen Consulting” brand.

Some analysts said that Andersen Consulting needs to market with steadiness and avoid gimmicky plays. “There’s no substitute for time, consistency and money in building a brand,”said Jim Nail, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

Arthur Andersen, meanwhile, is keeping the brand name but has nowhere near the clout of its former sister company. It is, however, quickly amassing a top-rate consulting practice. Its consulting revenues approached $1.5 billion in 1999, sizeable but dwarfed by Andersen Consulting’s $8.9 billion. (Andersen Worldwide, formerly both firms’ parent company, split them into two in 1989. Andersen Worldwide took consulting and Arthur Andersen, auditing. Since then, Arthur Andersen built its consulting practice, a point of contention that led to the firms’ divorce.)

Arthur Andersen recently rebranded itself to reflect a technology consulting focus. (It spent in the six- to seven-figure range on its Web sites alone.) But it has no plans to launch a big advertising campaign to coincide with Andersen Consulting’s, said Michael Hatcliffe, Arthur Andersen’s director of media relations.

“We don’t need to do anything in reaction to what Andersen Consulting does,” Hatcliffe said.

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