Global consulting firm A.T. Kearney rebrands as Kearney

12 January 2020 4 min. read
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Global management consulting A.T. Kearney has dropped the initials of its founder Andrew Thomas Kearney from its name, rebranding as Kearney, in a move that aims at shifting the focus of the firm’s branding from its 90+ year heritage to its current and future.

Kearney’s origins trace back to late 20’s, when Andrew Thomas Kearney joined McKinsey & Company as a partner in its Chicago office. When McKinsey’s founder James McKinsey passed away in 1937, Kearney split from the firm to operate as an independent firm, and after a decade or so he formally incorporated the A.T. Kearney brand.

In the past 60-plus years, A.T. Kearney managed to establish itself as one of the premier management consulting brands of the world, helping executives and managers with navigating complex change across topics including strategy, operations, procurement, supply chain, digital transformation, people & change, data analytics and mergers & acquisitions.

The company, which came close to merging with Booz & Company in 2010 (today Strategy& after Booz was picked up by PwC three years later), today employs over 3,500 employees in 40+ countries, generating to the tune of $1.3 billion in revenues. This makes Kearney the fifth largest strategy & operations specialist globally, behind McKinsey, BCG, Bain and Oliver Wyman, but ahead of Strategy& and Roland Berger.

Brand refresh

“While we take extraordinary pride in our heritage, our brand was centred primarily around this heritage,” said Abby Klanecky, Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at the consultancy. In a bid to place more emphasis on the present, the firm engaged London-based marketing strategy and design firm Siegel+Gale to review its brand.

Having spoken with partners and consultants, as well as clients, alumni and stakeholder communities, the decision was made to rebrand as Kearney. Alex Liu, Global Managing Partner of the firm, on the refresh: “The most exciting aspect of our new brand is that it so accurately captures our voice.”

According to Klanecky and Liu, the new Kearney brand and visual identity captures two key pillars of its strategy. First, a focus on people and a human-centric approach. Liu describes Kearney employees as people that “are always themselves”, and distinguish themselves by “speaking plainly, listening closely, and building great working relationships.”

Klanecky, who is based in the US, where privately-held Kearney is headquartered, added: “Our people are our brand, and our rebrand focuses squarely on that personal dimension.”

Putting this to practice, the firm has in a bold marketing move decided to scrap stock photography from its communication outings, replacing this with 100% crowdsourced imagery from Kearney colleagues. To populate the needed photography database, the company collected more than 10,000 photographs shot by Kearney's global employees between October to December 2019.

“The most exciting aspect of our new brand is that it so accurately captures our voice.”
– Alex Liu, Global Managing Partner

Second, the consulting firm dropped ‘A.T.’ to shift the attention from founder Andrew Thomas Kearney to the “broader family of employees, alumni, and friends who contribute to our success,” unpacked Klanecky. Underlining that success in a people-driven industry as consulting can never be attributed to a single person.

Branding consistency

While not highlighted by the firm in its press statement, the new brand will undoubtedly also harmonise its brand mentions across the media landscape. Despite its consistent efforts to emphasize the dots between its A and T, media outlets including major publications such as Financial Times, Bloomberg, Handelsblatt and New York Times have over the years repeatedly misreferenced the firm as ‘AT Kearney’, ‘A.TKearney’ or ‘ATKearney’ or ‘A.T.Kearney’.

After months of preparations, Kearney’s global branding refresh was unveiled to employees and the media last Friday, and further sees black and white displace red as its dominant colour. Meanwhile, the logo has been given a new font, and now presents Kearney in small capital letters.

Last year, McKinsey also launched a brand refresh, hot on the heels of Boston Consulting Group (which dropped 'The' from its name). And in the coming weeks, Oliver Wyman will follow suit with a new identity.