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N the days before “accountant” became synonymous in the public mind with “scoundrel,” the consulting divisions of the Big Five proudly bore their progenitors’ names: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, Arthur Andersen, and KPMG. Some of the consulting divisions had been spun off before Enron Corp. collapsed. But as gross auditing indiscretions emerged one after another last year, shedding old names became urgent. Andersen Consulting led the pack, becoming Accenture Ltd. in January 2001. Ernst & Young dodged the problem by selling its consulting arm to Cap Gemini SA. Then the accounting scandals rocked the nation. And Congress and the public yelled ever louder to separate highly paid consulting firms from their supposedly independent auditing colleagues. In June 2002 PwC Consulting, a division of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, announced a bizarre plan to rebrand itself as “Monday.” (That moniker was blessedly short-lived; IBM bought the division and folded it into IBM Business Consulting Services in July.) Deloitte Consulting, a unit of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, announced in July 2002 that it would take the name Braxton after its divorce from the accounting firm came through. None of the consulting firms, however, pulled off rebranding with the speed, secrecy, and relative thrift that KPMG Consulting, Inc., managed in changing its name to BearingPoint, Inc. The Monday debacle is estimated to have cost $110 million. Deloitte plans to spend $70 million launching its new name next year. And Andersen Consulting dropped about $150 million to become Accenture. By contrast, BearingPoint general counsel David Black says, the company will spend somewhere from $20 million to $40 million on renaming itself over fiscal year 2003 — with less than 10 percent of that going to outside counsel. According to Thomas Rodenhauser, president of Keene, New Hampshire — based Consulting Information Services, pulling off name selection, internal buy-in, and global legal clearance in under four months is simply “remarkable.” The McLean, Virginia — based technology consulting firm separated from its parent early on. Anticipating increased pressure from the Securities and Exchange Commission, it packed up, waved goodbye to KPMG LLP, and moved out in 2000. The SEC rewarded the firm by giving it permission to use its original name for four years. When the firm debuted on Nasdaq in February 2001, it did so under the old name. The plan to rebrand was officially announced in March. As GC Black explains, KPMG Consulting was on the verge of a slew of acquisitions, which would more than double its staff. A new name would help meld all the companies into one and also reassure analysts that KPMG was on the move. “You Have 90 Days” As in any rebranding effort, lawyers played a central role, working closely with the marketing staff to vet possible names and secure IP rights. Black decided that, for this project, the bulk of the work would be done in-house. “Our team knows how things work here,” he says. “And doing everything you can internally is a heck of a lot cheaper.” Black’s team hadn’t been together for very long. Described as a “100-year-old start-up,” the company had an estimable history but no law department when the GC started three years ago. One of his first hires was John Degroote, an affable 37-year-old fellow Texan, whom Black made associate GC and chief litigation counsel. Black, Degroote, and a handful of other lawyers had hurtled through the IPO. Last spring they were gearing up for about 20 acquisitions, including many overseas Andersen practices. Then, chairman and CEO Rand Blazer added rebranding to their agenda. Degroote asked around and determined that rebranding a global company typically took from nine to 12 months. He told that to the company’s chief marketing officer, Linda Rebrovick, who had 550 potential names ready for legal review. Everything looked good to go — until the CEO set the timetable. In late June, Blazer sat down with Rebrovick and told her: “You have 90 days to rebrand this company on a global basis.” Dissent wasn’t an option. The company’s name — in every place it appeared, from business cards to building signs to Web domain names — would change simultaneously in 134 countries in late September. Most of the legal work fell to Degroote and counsel Sarah Tuchler, a five-year company veteran who had just completed law school. Tuchler worked at home in June, cramming for the bar exam in the morning and plowing through possible names through the afternoon and late into the night. (She passed.) Some names were easy to eliminate. For example, employees suggested using the CEO’s name. But Rand Blazer Consulting would have been too similar to both The Rand Corporation and the Chevy Blazer sport-utility vehicle. Other candidates had fewer obvious conflicts. A bid for McLean Consulting, honoring the company’s headquarters city, sank when Tuchler learned that McDonald’s Corporation held the trademark for McLean (for its unsuccessful low-fat burger). Secret Offshore Company Degroote and Tuchler had more to worry about than just U.S. trademarks. By the end of the summer, the company would have 172 subsidiaries worldwide. The lawyers had to master corporate renaming protocols in every country where the company might do business; check for conflicts; and eventually secure the trademark, Web domain name, and logo in each. An insoluble problem with a name in just one country would be enough to scratch that name, because senior management wanted precisely the same moniker everywhere. For their part, the lawyers wanted a short name that wasn’t susceptible to abbreviation. They were tired of worrying about infringement threats for the use of KCI, the common shorthand for KMPG Consulting, Inc., but one the company didn’t own. Realizing they needed help, De-groote retained the Dallas office of Baker & McKenzie to process trademark applications worldwide. His choice was based in part on the firm’s huge overseas presence, but also on his trust in partner Elizabeth Yingling, whom he’d worked with in Dallas. “I knew she could take the pressure,” he says. To complicate matters even further, all the work had to be done with utmost secrecy. Commercial extortion was a constant threat, and everyone on the rebranding team lived in fear of leaks. In order to secure trademarks without the ownership being traceable back to KMPG Consulting, Baker & McKenzie set up a corporation in Barbados called Dallas Project Holdings, Limited. (The use of “Dallas” was an in-joke between Black and Degroote; both hail from that city.) The supersecret renaming effort was dubbed Operation K90. But only a handful of employees knew the names under consideration — and even fewer knew the winner. The twin imperatives of speed and secrecy turned Degroote, Tuchler, Rebrovick, and Black into undercover agents in their own company. There was a locked war room and a secure computer server. Degroote talks about “security breaches” — like the time the tarp blew off a new sign in Chicago — and says that uttering “BearingPoint” aloud was like saying “Voldemort” — the never-mentioned name of Harry Potter’s evil nemesis. The few who were in on the secret couldn’t even tell their spouses. Temptation was curbed by the fact that they rarely saw their mates awake. “My wife clearly understood this was just a round-the-clock situation,” says Degroote. Tuchler rarely slept — except for office naps. And everyone in the department was instructed to bring their passports to work every day in case they had to rush papers overseas. In the end, only two intercontinental dashes were made, to France and China. In early July, Rebrovick handed a narrowed-down list of 100 names to the lawyers for thorough vetting. By mid-August the lawyers had eliminated 90 percent of them. Everyone was stunned by the attrition rate due to legal conflicts. “I can’t begin to explain how challenging the process is because you’re a multi-billion-dollar company and operate globally,” says Rebrovick. When asked about PwC Consulting’s odd decision to name itself after a day of the week, she says only: “I am full of empathy for that decision.” Sprint To The Finish On August 19 the team finally settled on the name BearingPoint Inc. Thanks to a late-in-the-game decision to tie the name change announcement to the company’s switch from listing on Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange, everyone got a few extra days. In September, Blazer announced that the new name would be released on October 2. There was no turning back. The last five weeks were a flat-out sprint. “The dream team didn’t sleep,” says Black. He was drafted into service reviewing marketing materials, watching the four television ads through 30 iterations each, and checking the newspaper ad some 50 times. “Every decision we made — on ad copy, the Web site, the video, collaterals, the tag line, even the arc in the logo — had to be run through legal,” recalls Rebrovick. “Law departments usually act as service organizations, but John and David really took ownership of the project.” As the launch date approached, secrecy became harder and harder to maintain. The company’s 16,000 employees were directed to a secure Web site to fill in information for their new business cards. But they had no clue what company name the cards would bear. Larger objects were harder to hide. About 100 outside contractors had to sign an ironclad confidentiality agreement, and all were handed the name at the last possible moment.

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