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This article originally appeared in Business in Vancouver
Executives at MNP LLP's Vancouver office were at first reluctant to have their firm's brand on one of Vancouver's new office towers.
The firm, which has added 123 more accountants in the past year and is No. 4 on Business in Vancouver's list of biggest accounting firms in B.C., is best known for serving mid-sized businesses as clients.
They feared that putting the company's brand on a 35-floor tower might change that perception, explained MNP's regional managing partner of advisory services, Mackenzie Kyle.
“We didn't want people to think that we're moving out of the market niche that we're focused on,” Kyle told BIV. “We didn't want our clients to think, ‘Hey, there's a big-city firm for purely big companies.'”
In the end, the firm's decision-makers realized that it would be careless to let an opportunity slip by to increase exposure for the brand.
They inked a deal to lease seven floors, with an option for two more, at Oxford Properties' 270,000-square-foot tower at 1021 West Hastings Street, which is slated to be complete by June 2015.
MNP's brand will adorn a pillar outside the building, but there will be no signage at the top because that would mar the look of the sleek and curved design, said Oxford's director of leasing, Chuck We.
Having the tower branded the MNP Tower did not cost anything extra. The branding perk simply came as part of the leasing package for being the structure's first and largest tenant.
Similarly, in the early 2000s, PwC was able to brand a downtown office tower without paying anything extra for the perk. PwC was fresh from the 1998 merger between Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. That pact made the company Vancouver's second-largest accounting firm – a status it still holds.
Staff, however, were in different buildings, and the company wanted a headquarters to bring everyone together while simultaneously raising awareness of what was then a new brand: PricewaterhouseCoopers.
It committed to nine of the 20 floors in the new tower conveniently located at 250 Howe Street, next to the Waterfront SkyTrain station.
“Branding the building as PricewaterhouseCoopers was particularly significant at that time as it really signified the coming together of the two firms in a combined space,” said John DeLucchi, who is B.C. managing partner at what is now PwC.
Not all large accounting firms have pursued better brand recognition by attaching their name to downtown Vancouver office towers.
The largest accounting firm in town, KPMG, prefers a diversified approach to its marketing, said its regional managing partner, Jonathan Kallner.
Recognition of the KPMG brand “goes far beyond just the branding on the buildings,” Kallner said.
“We have 12 or 13 buildings. We have two buildings downtown as well as offices in Victoria, Burnaby, Langley, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, three in the Okanagan and in Prince George.
“What those offices allow us to do is have relationships in the communities in which we do business.”
KPMG's brand, along with that of fellow tenant McCarthy Tétrault, does adorn a pillar outside one of its Vancouver offices, at 777 Dunsmuir Street. KPMG has otherwise been involved in partnerships to extend brand recognition.
That's why its brand is painted under the ice at Vancouver Canucks games, Kallner added.
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