KPMG’s recent review of mergers and acquisitions cast a positive light on the current state of activity in the British and European market. Do you see any evidence of a strengthening of demand for corporate branding projects as a result of this? Do you expect to in the future?
Yes. For the first time since 2001 we have seen a significant increase in corporate branding projects. These are often linked to a large brand engagement component. We saw enquiries lift off in the third quarter of 2004 and these converted to clients earlier this year. The interest is mainly coming from corporations in central and eastern Europe trying to move into the UK market. In the UK, Germany and France there is a growing recognition of the importance of corporate reputation and the role of people in delivering the brand proposition through their behaviour.
Dave Allen, Worldwide chief executive, Enterprise IG
Without question our businesses will benefit from any upturn in M&A activity, the process is a focus point for key elements of branding such as naming, corporate identity and internal culture. Corporate branding groups have all learned to live without this stream of income, so it should fuel growth in the market. The big question is whether the recent boost is long-term or just a ‘blip’. Only time will tell.
Jez Frampton, Chief executive, Interbrand It’s getting better, but harder. Clients have been burnt by bad logos and irrelevant names. There is a call to add real value to the business, not meaningless generic decoration.
Peter Knapp, Executive creative director, Landor Associates
Since most M&As fail, smarter, hungrier clients are looking for more than pretty pictures, warm feelings and comfortable words. What they need are fundamentally reinvented businesses. Consultancies will have to work far harder to meet these changing expectations.
Nigel Markwick, Senior consultant, Wolff Olins
I’ve not seen or heard of any discernible activity increase. Corporate brand activity is nowhere near the 1998-2001 levels and it is difficult to see it getting back there. M&A is just one of the drivers for corporate brand activity and ironically, although M&A is high profile and exciting, the projects themselves tend to be relatively low in strategy and fees and all about speed to market.
Patrick Smith, Chief executive Europe, FutureBrand