Accenture has unveiled a new brand positioning and company purpose in a campaign created by Droga5, and will triple its annual media spend to US$90 million.
The consulting giant described the campaign, 'Let there be change', as its “biggest brand move in a decade”. It began working on the new look a year ago but the Covid-19 pandemic reinforced its focus on the need for change.
“We are following the same advice we give our clients in this time of relentless change: act with great agility and boldness,” Amy Fuller, Accenture’s chief marketing and communications officer, said.
“Our new campaign departs from convention to both capture our new purpose and give voice to today’s – and tomorrow’s – most pressing question: how can we help our clients embrace change to better businesses, communities, and lives?”
Accenture acquired creative agency Droga5 in April 2019 as part of the expansion of its digital marketing services division, Accenture Interactive, which has been increasingly competing with agency groups.
The creative features a mix of high-definition images of nature and workplace scenes. “The campaign depicts change – both seismic and small – optimistically capturing its power and beauty and reflecting the depth and breadth of Accenture’s expertise,” according to the consulting firm.
Fuller explained: “Our tone, our manner, our sensibility needed to be optimistic because change truly is an opportunity and Accenture’s secret super-power is dealing with change – both for our own selves and on behalf of our clients.
“‘Let there be change’ is: ‘Bring it on, we welcome it, we acknowledge that change is reality and that it can be an opportunity but it is not optional.’”
The brand continues to use Accenture’s corporate symbol, “>”, which has been part of the company’s logo for more than 20 years.
Accenture has refreshed its brand as part of a wider move by Julie Sweet, the global chief executive, who took over in September 2019, to evolve the consulting giant’s strategy and company purpose.
The strategy has moved from “Rotation to the New”, chiefly digital and cloud services, to “360° Value”, which is described as “helping clients transform and reinvent their businesses, reskill their employees, or become more sustainable”.
Accenture also announced a new company purpose – to “deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity” – that was developed with Droga5 and drew on 28,000 responses from a survey of the group’s 500,000-plus staff.
Fuller said: “Knowing that the brand is the tool of the strategy and based in the purpose, we had to relook at the brand.”
She described the latter stages of developing the new purpose and brand positioning remotely on Microsoft Teams during the pandemic as a “torture test”.
Fuller, who joined from Deloitte in 2017, added Accenture’s investment in its brand and purpose was important, even though it is a B2B company, because it needs to attract clients and talent to the consulting firm, which recruits tens of thousands of people annually.
'Our brand was under-leveraged'
UM, a subsidiary of Interpublic, handles media-buying for Accenture and the campaign will run across the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Accenture’s media spend is thought to have fallen significantly in recent years and increasing its spend to $90m is a reversal of that trend.
“Within the past decade, what we’ve been doing is getting extremely efficient and precise with our media buy,” Fuller admitted. “We were relatively flat for many years but just getting better and better at reaching our target.
“But we had a suspicion that our brand was under-leveraged and when you get really, really precise, you lose what I call the ‘desirable spill’. Because our talent base is so large and our recruiting base is so vast, desirable spill is, in fact, desirable.”
The new ad campaign will appear in “more high-profile” media properties, primarily on digital platforms as well as some TV and print, to make the Accenture brand “more visible”.
Asked whether Accenture was keener to invest in its brand because the company is active in the marketing services industry, Fuller said it was an opportunity to show “we are able to be our own very best credential of what Accenture Interactive can do”.
Sweet said of the new brand positioning: “Exponential changes in technology were transforming the way we work and live before Covid-19, and now its impact has raised change to a new level, requiring companies to reimagine everything and requiring economies and entire industries to rebuild.
“In this moment, to emerge stronger there is only one choice: embrace change and ensure that it benefits all—your customers, people, shareholders, partners and communities.”
In a recent Campaign interview, Byron Sharp, a marketing professor and author of How Brands Grow, questioned whether marketers were focusing too much on change and suggested consumers “liked their lives before” Covid and were likely to return to old habits after the pandemic.
However, Fuller said many of Accenture’s clients felt the “need to go far, far faster”, in terms of embracing digital and cloud services and ecommerce.
“Because we deal with businesses and governments, it’s probably a different view from the consumer view,” she said. “What we were hearing, in the context of the crisis, was: ‘I really wish I’d moved faster.’ If not change, it’s flexibility and the ability to work under different conditions and environments [that clients want].”
A few years ago, some clients might have thought they “need to do a digital transformation and then I’m good” but that shifted, even before Covid-19, Accenture’s research found.
Now clients are thinking about “perpetual change”, Fuller said. “It’s a continuous re-look at who your competitors are, what your business model is and what kind of tools and solutions are needed,” she said.
Accenture expects its own revenues to decline by up to 3% in the current quarter because of continued “volatility” related to Covid.