What Do We Know About BDO?

[Cache #179]

By Andris Pone
President, Coin Branding

Several years ago, in an interview for a potential gig, I made an embarrassing admission.

I am not a multitasker.

I wasn’t the embarrassed one.  The potential client was.  On my behalf.  “How stupid must this guy be to admit that he doesn’t like to multitask?” he was thinking, judging from the look on his face.  Such was and is the zeitgeist – that in the very first paragraph of one’s resume must be the claim that we can do a million things at once, and love every one of them with all our heart.

Instead I proudly wear the fact that I am a focuser.  The things I love to do, and do well, are things that require attention sustained over long periods of time.  And so an online ad I saw recently has irked me deeply.  The ad is from BDO Canada, an accounting, tax and advisory firm whose memorable tagline is People who know, know BDO.

For me the pivotal line of dialogue is this:

“For Brian, it’s about whether he can call the partner at midnight.”

This is the line spoken by someone from a firm thinking of hiring BDO.  He is saying that Brian, a guy on his team, needs a seasoned consultant he can call in the middle of the night.  This ad is telling us that partners at BDO are available for calls, well, whatever time the client feels like it, no matter how unreasonable – and I realize I am using “unreasonable” improperly here, for this ad tells us that for BDO, the concept does not exist.

This ad is telling us that BDO partners are puppets.

How good can such partners be?  What is their level of expertise in a particular area, and what esteem do they hold in the eyes of their clients if, at this senior point in their careers, they have no control whatsoever – no focus – over their work day or personal life?

The answer is likely a simple one:  that BDO Canada consultants are a highly talented and respected group of professionals who have considerable control over their calendars and careers.  For this to be true, and it is fair to expect that it is, the ad must not be a reasonable portrayal of the BDO brand.  And indeed, on the BDO Canada website we find this:

“BDO helps its professionals meet their professional objectives, advance their careers, and establish an appropriate balance between their work and personal lives.” (emphasis added)

And this:
“…Our team members enjoy a well-rounded client working experience, a stable and suitable work environment…” (emphasis added)

So it turns out that BDO is a great place to work.  Or that it’s a hellhole.  The reasons behind this discrepancy could be many, including the Old Friends and New Friends problem, or the need for a CBO (Chief Brand Officer) orientation.

Any way you slice it, a brand is what people think of you.  That’s why the Number One Rule of Branding is: be consistent.  Because if you’re not, people won’t know – even about BDO – what to think.

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