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OpenLearn Live: 16th November 2015

Updated Monday, 16th November 2015

The company that was Monday.

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There's not going to be a full OpenLearn Live today - normal service will be resumed tomorrow, and don't miss Friday's collection of electromagentic genius, hunting and sporting programmes and the man who helped shape the bicycle.

But we are going to start this week's start-up segment, and this week we're having a whole week of Mondays.

Monday week: The company that was Monday

Monday is an odd choice for a brand - it's not just Garfield who finds the day less than joyous, and people who do have that 'hurrah for a new week' can-do attitude can alienate colleagues who find they don't hit their groove until Wednesday. Or Thursday. Of all the businesses you'd think would understand that Monday can be an unpopular wagon to hitch your fortunes to, it'd be a business consultancy.

But Price Waterhouse Coopers decided it'd be the perfect name.

Price Waterhouse Coopers in Stavanger Creative commons image Icon Annette Larsen under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license A branch of Price Waterhouse Coopers

Back around the start of the millennium, when people still talked about things happening "around the turn of the millennium", the large accountancy firms were getting into difficulties with their consulting arms - to avoid conflicts of interest, accountants couldn't provide consultancy services to businesses whose activities they would then audit and, with just four major accountancy firms, the market was getting scelerotic. Ernst & Young sold off its consultancy business; Arthur Andersen spun off its consultants arm in a messy, messy corporate divorce, picking the name Accenture from the winner of a staff competition.

PWC's path to separation wasn't entirely smooth - they tried to sell the consultancy business to Hewlett Packard; when that failed, they decided on a spin-off, and brought in a branding company to name the new entity. Hence: Monday. BBC News reported the change in 2002:

The company's new name is intended to denote fresh thinking and new beginnings, rather than the unwelcome start of the working week after two days of freedom.

"Sharpen your pencil, iron your crispy white shirts, set the alarm clock, relish the challenge, listen, be fulfilled, make an impact, take a risk," runs a PwC slogan designed to publicise the new name.

And a risk it was - the name was derided, with the joke being that the company had called their agency before the weekend to ask if they'd come up with the name, getting the reply "is Monday alright?"

The brand didn't last long, though - it barely made it through to the following Monday, as the spun-off entity was snapped up by IBM, shedding the name and the embarrassment in the prcoess.

So had the rump of Price Waterhouse Coopers learned to avoid showy brands in future? Not quite - last year, it bought a strategy consulting firm, Booz & Co. The name it chose for its new acquistion? Strategy&. No, the ampersand isn't the HTML on this page playing up. It's meant to be there. Business Review Weekly found reception to the name a little cold:

“Their idea of racy branding makes them vulnerable to ad agencies’ new thinking,” says Melbourne Business School associate professor of branding Mark Ritson. “It’s like your dad at a disco – just plain awkward.”

But Booz executives insist it ­connects employees to the heritage and prestige of the brand ‎while sig­nifying to the market a combined entity “that speaks to the possible”.

Understanding branding a little better this Monday:

Read Getting branding right

Watch Business Bursts: Branding

Try our free course Products, services & branding





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