+44 (0) 20 7960 3802

PA Consulting

“Circle 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”
Head of MarketingCircle helped PA to develop a new logo and descriptor by gauging market reactions to the concepts under consideration. On the back of this, PA refreshed their identity in Q1 2014 and have received strong positive feedback on the route taken.

The client

PA is a management consulting, technology and innovation firm employing 2,500 people globally. They advise clients on how to enhance their business activities and then support them in implementing this change.

The end goal

PA, the world’s oldest consulting firm, was approaching its 70th anniversary and this milestone birthday had triggered a period of reflection. PA felt that their logo was becoming a bit tired and wasn’t fully in line with their brand positioning as a free-thinking innovator. After all, it had been in place since 1984.
And so the brief was issued. PA wanted a logo which:

  • Stood firmly apart from competitors
  • Represented PA’s free thinking, innovative mind-set
  • Gave a nod to 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 to this brief, PA’s design agency developed a number of logo concepts and descriptors. Whilst PA’s brand team had their own personal opinions on these options, they knew that the true judge had to be their target market. Here enters Circle. 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

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 projective 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 business outcomes

The new logo and descriptor was introduced in Q1 2014, and was positively received with many echoing the opinion 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.