Thank God it’s Monday

It will take much longer than a week to get over Monday.

No, not the day itself — we all manage to muddle through those. I’m talking about Monday, as in the name PricewaterhouseCoopers has chosen for its consulting division, a brand makeover that turned the company into an IT laughingstock

in less than 24 hours.

In a statement published Sunday, PwC Consulting said it wanted a moniker which would distinguish its management consulting and technology services from those of its competitors. In this, it has succeeded. It is hard to imagine any of its rival firms — including Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche or KMPG — doing anything quite so drastic.

It is so drastic, in fact, that the whole thing reeks of some kind of stunt. There might be a good reason for this, given that the parent company recently filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of Class A common shares. The launch of Monday has already generated headlines in the business pages of North American newspapers, publicity that PwC could use to its advantage as it prepares to cash in on the outsourcing boom.

That doesn’t seem likely, however, when you notice the relative lack of content behind the launch. Greg Brenneman, the firm’s president and CEO, says in the statement that Monday will “”have real meaning and stand for something: real people, real experience, real business . . . and that means real results.”” No thoughts, however, on what the meaning might be. Given the industry’s short attention span, you would think Monday’s management would take the opportunity to articulate the substance behind the brand sooner than later.

You could try looking at the new Web site, IntroducingMonday.com, for help, but you won’t get far. The pages contain perky pictures of a coffee carafe, toast and other morning imagery. Monday is “”a fresh start, a positive attitude, part of everyone’s life,”” one page declares cheerfully. “”It stands out and it stands for something.””

I think it stands for the one part of the week that almost no one looks forward to. But then, maybe the consultants at PwC have better Mondays than the rest of us.

No one ever said this kind of exercise is easy. Just ask Borland, another IT company saddled with a brand that provoked only derision. A few years ago it rebranded itself as “”Inprise.”” No, not Inspired; Inprise. This was the result of shoving together the words “”intelligent”” and “”enterprise.”” It didn’t work, and Borland was back on the letterhead by 2001. This approach was nonetheless adopted by Accenture (accent on the future — get it?), which it will probably never retire if only because the company never wants anyone to remember it was once the consulting side of Enron-tainted Arthur Andersen. Other companies simply reach for their parents’ brand. Two months ago DMR Consulting was recreated in Fujitsu’s image (except in Quebec, which the company seems to regard as a distinct society, given DMR was founded there). As for D&T and KPMG, which are also reportedly making name changes, anything’s better than a bunch of initials.

All this name dropping is a healthy sign of growing competition within the outsourcing sector, where companies are turning to the marketing tactics of hardware and software companies to establish an identity that expresses core strengths. The brands have become euphemisms of a firm’s competitive features: this is the new language of business.

It may sound funny now — and even years from now — but Monday is impossible to forget, and it rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than the awkwardly-capitalized PricewaterhouseCoopers, which always sounded like a discount utility company anyway. The consulting operation will have to work overtime to pull off a set of IT success stories with Fortune 5000 customers to put some history and respect behind its new moniker. Having fended off HP (which wanted to acquire it two years ago), however, its employees have proven themselves motivated to excel in the services arena. Outsourcers may come and go, but no one’s ever figured out how to get rid of Monday.

sschick@itbusiness.ca

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