PA Consulting:
becoming free-thinking innovators

PA felt its logo was becoming tired and wasn’t fully in line with the brand’s positioning as a free-thinking innovator."

PA is a management consulting, technology and innovation firm employing 2,500 people globally.

It advises clients on how to enhance their business activities and then supports them in implementing this change.

The Challenge

PA, the world’s oldest consulting firm, was approaching its 70th anniversary triggering a period of reflection. The brand felt their logo was becoming tired and wasn’t fully in line with its positioning as a free-thinking innovator.

And so, the brief was issued. PA wanted a logo which:

• Stood firmly apart from competitors
• Represented PA’s free thinking, innovative mind-set
• Acknowledged the rich legacy PA had built over the last 70 years

Also included within the brief was the desire to tie a descriptor to the logo which communicated that PA’s services now extended beyond their core offering of management consulting.
In response, PA’s design agency developed several logo concepts and descriptors. Whilst PA’s brand team had their own opinions, they knew the true judge had to be their target market. Here entered Savanta.

Our role was to:

• Gauge market reactions to the different logo options and descriptors
• Identify how effectively each communicated PA’s brand values and activities
• Recommend the optimal route (or whether to return to the drawing board)

Our approach

Options:
presented

Reactions:
explored

Stand out:
identified

To explore reactions to the different options, we conducted a series of in-depth, highly exploratory interviews with PA’s target market – senior executives in large organisations.

In these interviews we:

• Explored what thoughts and feelings a consulting firm’s logo should trigger
• Captured reactions to PA and competitors’ current logos
• Presented the different design options and discussed reactions to these
• Concluded with a ‘vote’ for the different options (or none at all)

Conscious that some may find it hard to express their thoughts on how different designs made them feel and the associations they triggered; we employed a variety of projection techniques during these interviews to help uncover a deeper understanding.

The research clearly identified a winning design which, with a few tweaks, would stand out from the crowd and communicate PA’s desired message. It also identified the descriptor which spoke most strongly to the target market and their needs. However, at the same time the research flagged that a certain segment of the market preferred the current logo as it spoke of stability and consistency. This meant that the logo launch would need to be carefully handled to emphasise that these attributes remained an important aspect of PA’s values.

The outcome

The new logo and descriptor were introduced in Q1 2014 and were positively received with many echoing the sentiment of one research participant: “It says to me that this is a thinking firm. It denotes intelligence, says that they really think outside the box and can fulfil my requirements”.

Alongside its introduction, the new identity was used as a springboard for a global marketing campaign which has successfully re-positioned PA as a challenger brand to traditional consultancies.

“Savanta did a great job. They engaged our hard-to-reach target market and generated insights which helped us to optimise the logo design and confidently push ahead with radical change.”



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