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.

“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.”

The challenge

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 mindset
  • 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)
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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:

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.

Other case studies

We developed the Global Mobility thought leadership programme for relocation firm Santa Fe.

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The result is content which positions them as the voice-of-authority and has led to >1,000 sales opportunities.

We created the award-winning Perspectives thought leadership series for Vodafone.

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The result has been several million in incremental sales revenue and an ROI of >8,000%.

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