Case Study

Design in business | PricewaterhouseCoopers

The company

PricewaterhouseCoopers Ireland is the largest firm offering services across audit, tax and advisory in Ireland. In 2014, PwC Ireland registered an annual turnover of €230 million, a 7.5% increase from 2012. The company employs over 2,000 people and 100 Partners in seven locations: Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. Each year, PwC Ireland recruits between 220 and 280 graduates.

Advising 71% of the top 200 Irish companies, PwC understands corporate efficiency. A key factor of this efficiency is the adoption of design in all aspects of how they do business –internal and external corporate communications, digital communications, the strategic integration and execution of creativity into all campaigns and the design of business solutions for clients.

The core brand message, “My relationship with PwC helps create the value I’m looking for”, is infused throughout the Global Brand and Global Digital Strategies. Although there are global guidelines on brand, PwC Ireland can adopt its own distinct strategic values for design.

Design activity in Ireland

The Business Development and Marketing department is made up of 35 people. This includes ten senior specialists in the Creative and Content teams who are involved in digital content, communications, animation and user experience design. Over the past ten years the company has developed their use of design, which was originally seen as production and styling, to the integration of design thinking in their business strategy to add more value and achieve KPIs. In this time, the Creative team has grown from conducting small-scale internal communication activities to a fully-fledged studio. The Creative team has input into PwC Ireland’s overarching business strategy and works closely with Senior Partners. The ethos of the Creative team is ‘Design for KPIs’. According to the Creative Services Manager:

“We aim to use design to impact business driven KPIs. We use creativity to drive our business objectives – always aiming to get the right mix of creativity versus content.  And avoid doing design for design’s sake.  It’s seen as a business tool”.

The Creative team conducts regular brand training for the group of 50 PAs in production and communication design. It is estimated that around 40% of the PA’s time is spent on production design, creating presentations and proposals. In this way, the design message is infused throughout the company. At present, each unit has a design budget integrated into their operations however, PwC Ireland are looking at creating a centralised design budget to capitalise on the expertise of the Creative team.

Design in focus

One of the biggest flagship campaign projects within the company is communicating how the Irish Government’s Annual Budget will affect business operations in Ireland. Assessing the implications of the Budget for PwC clients and prospective clients is an intelligence gathering exercise as well as a brand awareness exercise with a broad target audience. Design impacts all aspects of this campaign and involves around 60 staff internally and external expertise. As such, the Creative team must implement a rigorous design process to ensure a quality user experience. The Budget 2015 campaign included a pre-budget video, pre-budget webpage, online tax calculator, social media campaign, ad words, vox pops, infographics, brochure, sponsorship, real-time website analysis on the night and a breakfast briefing.

As a result, the estimated number of web users was up 792% from 21,477 in 2013 to 108,242 in 2014. There was also a 21% increase in access from mobile devises. There were over 2,000 referrals from the Irish Times website. The number of attendees at the Budget briefing was up 17% from 485 in 2013 to 521 in 2014. PwC are now looking at ways to track these links back to new revenue. The estimated investment by PwC in the campaign was around €200,000 including the launch costs, ad words, external design agency costs and sponsorship. For the Creative Services Manager:

“When you are working in-house, people can underestimate how much design and creativity is involved in differentiating campaigns and projects while still operating within the parameters of the global brand.”

Impacts from design

Design is incorporated into how PwC do business. Since PwC undertook a re-branding in 2010, the global brand value has increased by 110% and in 2015, PwC were named the world’s second most powerful brand by Brand Finance. In Ireland, design impacts can be seen in the company’s ability to secure flagship projects in areas such as the communication of key Irish policies. The company’s design capability has also played an important role in its cross-cutting support for core company KPIs.