May 15, 2011

Giant Accounting Firm Joined Witness Protection Program

One day in 2011, my wife was watching golf’s Players Championship on tv, and asked me about the logo of a principal sponsor: “Who is pwc?”

I had a guess in mind, but I had to go to Wikipedia to verify it, which should tell you something. It seems one of the world’s largest accounting firms decided to become forgettable and anonymous, and underwent a “major rebranding effort” to accomplish this aim. Why they decided to go into hiding was not explained, but they discarded their prominent name in order to join the ranks of firms who commit the three-initial mistake.

My usual reaction to black lipstick, mullet haircuts, or barbed-wire neck tattoos is, “They choose to look like this deliberately?” But this of course is the exact opposite: a calculated effort not to be memorably distinctive, but to be invisible. Wear beige, avoid eye contact, drive a Mercury.

They added a decoration as their trademark. Of course. It’s an assemblage of color squares that could serve as a logo only for a major accounting firm. Or a nail salon. Or, oh, any organization in the known world.

But in their defense, streamlining the name down to “pwc” got them from six syllables to five.