Tax Branding Public Relations

Vox Pop: Resurrecting brands from the past

By Michael Feeley | Founder and chief exec



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September 5, 2014 | 4 min read

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This week, we asked Drum Network member agencies the following question:

The name of US auditor Arthur Andersen, which collapsed in 2002 following the Enron accounting scandal, is controversially being resurrected after some of its former partners bought the rights to the name and re-christened their consultancy AndersenTax.

What advice would you offer anyone looking to relaunch a brand from the past?

Saman Mansourpour, managing director, The Agency

Resurrecting brands from the past can be lucrative, particularly when there is nostalgia surrounding them. Wispa anyone? I guess the main reason any organisation would look to do it is to re-engage with the brand’s prior audience. But those brands were shelved for a reason. The key to future success is not repeating the mistakes of the past. For many they will have to be a deeper and richer level of brand engagement, and most will need to behave in a modern way, by keeping fresh and current.

In the case of Arthur Andersen it seems very odd, though, as they did see Enron’s demise as a significant enough reason to kill the brand in the first place. The organisation (and its directors) have become synonymous with malpractice and the thousands of job losses that followed. These aren't values that underpin a successful accountancy practice of the future. One can therefore only assume that the use of Andersen as a brand name serves purely to generate headlines and publicity around their launch. Poor taste perhaps? Misguided short term opportunism?

I'm sure they've looked at the brand tracking studies, but it seems to me they're going to be expending as much effort re-assuring new clients as they are burying the past. Or maybe people just don't care? In a world of accelerated communications, click bait headlines and all out fabrication in the news, this seems like a dumb lotta effort.

Kate Cooper, chief executive officer, Bloom Worldwide

Dear Andersen Tax,

The world has changed since your previous incarnation. Watch words now are transparency, authenticity, connectivity, value creation and innovation. The speed and scale of change is breath-taking and now, the most enduring and powerful brands are built from the heart. From a passion for your craft and expertise. Their foundations are stronger because they are built from the strength of human spirit. Long-lasting and successful brands are the brands that are authentic. Find a way to bring this to Tax and Auditing and you will win because goodness knows financial services needs an injection of human spirit.

Al Marchant, chapter head, Chapter

Old brands are like old partners. Some you look back on fondly, others you may still yearn for – but everyone’s got that one ex that, frankly, you’d rather never see again. They’ve all got their plus points – something must have attracted you to them at first – but equally something must have caused the relationship to fail.

Resurrecting old brands is therefore fraught with the same dangers as getting in touch with an old flame. So we have to ask ourselves if it’s worth all the effort? In essence: does the brand still carry equity with its audience? Does it still have consumers and advocates that never forget that special time spent together? Will it all be the same as you remember?

If the answer to those questions is no, then you’d probably be better off moving on. At the end of the day, just because you still have that number in your phone, it isn’t a reason to call.

Tax Branding Public Relations

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