Without a shadow of doubt, “2020 had been a year like no other”. Given its devastating and lingering impacts on both income traffic and economic opportunities, the “black swan” COVID-19 pandemic is more than a nightmare for every single entrepreneur. The accounting industry is not an exception!
“As the COVID-19 crisis hit, we all experienced something no risk management system could ever have anticipated,” stated Hervé Hélias, Mazars Group CEO and Chairman. “The human and economic consequences of the crisis are already devastating, and we certainly have not seen the end of it yet.” Though, amidst such a chaotic and uncertain time, this accounting giant did make a bold move: to deliver the globe-wide rebranding initiatives. What steered the firm to take this decision and how has this become one of the most iconic phenomena within the accounting scene? Let’s figure it out!
Mazars’s Rebranding: More than A New Look!
A Milestone Along the Firm’s Growth Funnel
Since its inception in 1945 by Robert Mazars in France, Mazars has come a long way as an international tax, audit, and financial behemoth. Stunningly shaped into a global firm with various strategic partners in more than 90 countries, Mazars proves to have grown its international footprint carefully – responding to its clients’ needs and the changing market conditions – while always staying true to the founding values and culture towards what is right.
“The diversity of our offerings, clients and talent has flourished as we have grown. Society’s expectations of business have also evolved, bringing new challenges and opportunities for us and our clients, driving us to innovate,” as the 2020 Yearbook claims. “2020 was the time to reflect on those changes and rearticulate the promise that we make to our clients, people and society. We want our brand to truly represent the firm we are today and strive to be in the future.”
This is how Mazars’s new identity gets unveiled all around its global footprints, thus signing a major milestone in the evolution of the company. The company anchored its ambition to “bring a genuinely different perspective to the audit, tax and advisory market, which is reflected in the new brand identity.”
A Response to Current Setback & Potential “Twilight”
One of the reasons which drove the company to implement the rebranding process was probably the decline in audit quality in 2019.
Only 60% of Mazars’s audits were assessed as good in the 2018/19 review cycle, compared to 80%, with the latest audit quality inspection (AQI). Markedly, the accounting firm was fined 272,000 USD for failings in its audit of a local authority’s financial statements. According to The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the audit “fell far short of the applicable standards and regulations” and had the potential “to undermine confidence in the standards in general of registered auditors”.
“We are disappointed with [the FRC’s] findings on our work on the audit of the financial statements at our local audit clients,” said Mazars’s spokesman in a response statement. “The firm will robustly respond to the findings and has plans in place to improve the quality of our local audit work.”
On the company side, they stated the failure was caused by a lack of quality control and the employees’ high turnover rate. After that event, the company realized the importance of re-construction while they were dramatically spreading out the globe.
“Our new brand identity clearly defines who we are: an international and multicultural audit, tax and advisory firm, built as an integrated partnership, working as one team and committed to helping its people and clients succeed, providing confidence and acting in the public interest.” This brand redesign reflects the firm’s desire to improve and innovate, bringing out the new promises of its value and new structure to run the international organization.
“We have collectively taken Mazars to the next level,” stated Hervé Hélias. “We now are a truly global Group, the only one with a genuinely independent and integrated model.”
“The rebranding has been two years in the making, and it’s part of a broader evolution of Mazars globally and here in the U.S.,” shared Victor Wahba, Chairman and CEO of the independent member firm of Mazars in the U.S. “It’s designed to reinforce how we work together as one team and across all 90 of the countries that we operate in.” This, once again, reinforces the firm’s ambition to form a globally unified brand that demonstrates to large multinational clients that: Mazars has the strength and scope they need in a firm, both around the world and in North America.
Mazars’s Brand-New Visual Identity Revealed
Key drivers behind such a dramatic rebranding decision have been debunked. So, how about the rebranding itself? How does this behemoth’s new identity look and what does it translate in terms of the firm’s future commitment?
“Each element of our new identity resonates with our brand positioning and promise reflecting who we are, our personality and what we offer,” shared Cécile Kossoff, Chief Brand, Marketing & Communication Officer, who led the global rebranding initiative at Mazars. “Take our new logo, a pure wordmark with a unique stylized ‘m’ with the curve downstroke signifying our agility, lightness of foot and ability to adapt and react quickly.”
Simply described, their new logo emerges as an understated wordmark that is free of symbols and taglines. Being pure and timeless in design, it is uniquely Mazars.
When it comes to the color, blue is the main color. “The color palette is elegant and professional, sophisticated, with colors that stand out, but also complement each other when used in combination. The blue tones are a nod to our heritage.”
Speaking of Mazars’s visual system, their images all have a depth of field. They present areas with a blur and then an area in focus, wisely highlighting the firm’s ability to bring precision and to focus on the right thing. “How we use photography in our publications illustrates our client and our people centricity.”
Cécile Kossoff emphasized, “The imagery style shows our focus on our clients, their industries and their challenges, not a focus on us. We want to avoid cliche imagery, and rather use real situations captured naturally.”
A Different Yet Balanced Perspective Brought Forward by New Identity
“We believe it’s about so much more than a new identity,” proudly stated Mark Kennedy, Partner, Head of Global Sectors & Services at Mazars. “We see it as a celebration of who we are today, a way to reaffirm our promise and to bring it to life, through what we do, what we say, how we look, and most importantly, how we act.”
Collaborating with agility on a global scale, getting recognized for the diversity and quality of its professionals as well as its bespoke services, the accounting giant aims to bring a genuinely different perspective to the audit, tax and advisory market – directly through its new brand identity.
Commenting on this aspiration, Hervé Hélias gave out an example: “Mazars University has just received the CLIP [the Corporate Learning Improvement Process] accreditation for the second time running.” This is the leading accreditation for corporate universities following a successful assessment of its leadership, programs and services, innovation, and human and physical resources capabilities. “We feel a strong responsibility towards our people and their employability. Helping them grow as experts in their fields and empowering them to lead is essential to serve our clients according to our highest standards and remain an employer of choice.”
Furthermore, Mazars strengthens its investment in audit – expertise, technology, quality control – and to actively shape the debate for enabling a healthy and sustainable audit industry. “An industry which needs technical and regulatory innovations, consistent quality standards and choice”, explained Hervé Hélias.
Whereas audit represents nearly 50% of its business activities, Mazars has developed a broad array of services in accounting, tax, legal, consulting and financial advisory, proving that such diversity of expertise is highly relevant to businesses, whatever their size, who need to navigate complex regulatory markets and to grow in a sustainable way.
“While audit has long been at the heart of our business, we strongly believe our multidisciplinary approach is key to supporting our clients’ changing needs and helping them achieve sustainable growth. That is why we have developed and built expert tax, advisory, compliance and sustainability practices. This enables us to offer a rich and full breadth and depth of services.”
“This new positioning and identity will serve us well as we navigate our way forward with a renewed sense of purpose.” – Hervé Hélias, Mazars Group CEO and Chairman
Beyond those, the new brand identity also reaffirms the French-based firm’s purpose and long-standing values of integrity, responsibility and accountability.
Standing at the heart of Mazars’s commitment to cultivating “a fair and prosperous world” is the firm’s leadership position in researching and shaping the debate about how financial services can help settle down key topics that matter for the big economy and society as a whole, such as climate change, gender diversity and business sustainability.
Furthermore, the company does highlight its dedication to contributing to a collective reflection with all stakeholders with a view to securing the quality of audit and closing the expectation gap facing the entire profession.
Commenting on Mazars’s identity and the firm’s renewed sense of purpose, Cécile Kossoff – the “mother” of this initiative – shared, “We are all incredibly proud of our firm, of our journey and of the new Mazars brand. This new identity is built on the firm’s DNA, reinforcing who we are, how we work and what makes us different.”
“It reflects our heritage and integrated approach, combining a true international reach with deep local roots; our sense of responsibility to the industry; the long-standing technical expertise and quality we offer; the focus and mutual respect we have for our clients, the unique human touch they value, the confidence and reassurance that we bring to them; and our commitment to do the right thing,” she explained.
The Bottom Lines
Throughout such challenging years since 2020, Mazars took the chance to launch their new positioning “project”. This is undoubtedly a momentous milestone for this French-originated accounting firm with the new identity being a clear indication of their ambition for the future.
Whilst being a bold decision, this rebranding initiative proves to be a brilliant move of Mazars, given all positive media exposure thereafter. Diving deep into Mazars’ rebranding event, many lessons can be drawn.