Reinventing an icon

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The iconic brand for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) adds a contemporary dimension to one of the oldest accountancy bodies in the world, and reasserts its leadership position at the heart of the world's strong economies. 

Established by Royal Charter in 1880, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is one of the oldest accountancy bodies in the world.

With a rich heritage and a membership of over 148,000 professionals around the world, the Institute has led the accountancy profession for over 136 years. But the volatile shifts of the 21st century, coupled with the growth of other professional bodies around the world, provided a catalyst for ICAEW to re-examine its position. To thrive in an increasingly competitive space, ICAEW asked The Partners to evolve its brand to reassert its leadership as the preeminent professional body for the accountancy and finance profession globally. 

We began by conducting one-on-one interviews. As well as evaluating research documents and surveys, we created a comprehensive audit of the materials used across its five main audiences – members, students, government, business and employees – and compared these with ICAEW’s competitors. We presented these findings in a series of workshops delivered across the organisation, working with stakeholders to develop a brand strategy that positioned ICAEW as an agile institute at the heart of a global network of excellence.

We created a brand narrative and a set of values that allowed ICAEW to emphasise and enhance its participation in a global arena that plays a central role in the world’s economic system. Our narrative articulates the vision of ‘a World of Strong Economies’ and puts international work at the heart of everything ICAEW does as an organisation. Whether it is supporting governments or offering businesses invaluable insight and advice, it provides the coherent thread in internal and external communications globally.

Our next challenge was to develop a new visual identity for ICAEW. Using the Institute’s heritage as a starting point, we reinterpreted ‘Economia’, the female figure that features in its original coat of arms. We added a new dimension to the three symbolic tools held by the figure: a rod, signifying command; a rudder, symbolising guidance; and a set of measuring dividers, which represent assessment. 

In the new identity, the dividers are highlighted in red and become a unique symbol of the profession. They are held by Economia in the identity but also feature as a standalone graphic device in communications. Combined with visual wit, the dividers act as a visual metaphor for measurement, precision and insight.

Taking symbolic elements from the organisation’s history, we have created a modern, flexible system that is fitting for ICAEW’s diverse range of roles and activities. We developed the brand to work online, in literature, in sponsorship and in environments. To introduce the new brand within the organisation, we produced a members’ handbook, brand film and comprehensive guidelines for all partners working with the institution.

The relationship with ICAEW is ongoing and we continue to lead workstreams to activate the brand for its key audiences globally.

Read more here.