Just Plain Better. When we were hired to create a name for a new accounting firm, we were fortunate to have a client with a unique story to tell. A recent Rockefeller Corporation study which asked, "Why do customers leave their accountants?," revealed great dissatisfaction with this industry among consumers:
Notice that "price"and "quality" are absent from the results; customers made decisions on what accounting firm to hire based predominately on how they were treated (i.e. service). This new company wanted to change all that, to create a new kind of accounting experience for small to medium-sized companies that threw out the old rules, such as the dreaded "billable hour," and focused on customer service and satisfaction. Their plan to do this included having fixed monthly prices for varying levels of service, so their customers would never be surprised by their bill; unlimited support, so customers could contact them any time by phone, email or in person to discuss their account without ever paying a penny extra for it; and finally offering a superior online accounting experience that gives customers and their accountants 24/7 access to the customer's account, so businesses would be better able to make intelligent financial decisions because they would always have the latest financial numbers at their fingertips.
The challenge for Igor was to create a name for a brand new kind of accounting experience, a name that's as distinctive within the accounting and business service industries as the company's business model is. As the brand positioning developed, we realized that the company needed a great name that not only worked on many levels, but also one that was warm, human, sensual and evocative, all the better to counter the prevailing names in the accounting industry. The bulk of names in the accounting industry are cold, calculating, inhuman, remote, mechanical, stodgy, soulless and devoid of charm.
Our client also wanted a confrontationally quiet name, a name that was a self-effacing statement about the personality of accountants, yet elegant and dignified at the same time. We found the perfect name in Vanilla, which demonstrates the above brand attributes so that the company never has to explain them.
For the Vanilla project, we also developed the company's website, adopting the clean, spare design of our own site to reinforce the elegant simplicity of the Vanilla accounting model. This phase of the project included implementing the sophisticated Movable Type blogging software, allowing the company to post topical accounting news and insights in a variety of categories, positioning the firm to become synonymous with "The Accounting Blog" and own the conversation within the accounting industry.
Keep your eye on Vanilla -- this is a company with a great story to tell, and soon the accounting industry will be playing catch-up, scrambling to deal with a unique new name, brand proposition, and business model that in May 2004 infiltrated an industry that has been fiercely resistant to change, for the benefit of customers who have had to put up with tired old business practices for far too long simply because "that's the way it's always been done." Well, no longer. Vanilla - just plain better.