Episode 27: How to cultivate a brand during adversity with Grant Thornton’s Lucy Canning

In this week’s episode, David Rowlands, editor for B2B Marketing, sat down with brand, marketing and business development director of Grant Thornton. They talk about how branding was impacted by Covid-19, what marketing tactics are damaging for brands, and where Lucy sees Grant Thornton going in the ‘new normal’ era. 

DR: Hi Lucy! Thanks for joining us today. Before we begin, can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at Grant Thornton?


: I’m Lucy Canning and I’m the brand, marketing and business development director at Grant Thornton. I’ve been with Grant Thornton for 13 years now and have had three other roles over that time that have ultimately led me to this position, which I took on in 2018. Before Grant Thornton, I worked in similar roles in a smaller competitor, and before I started my career, I did a degree in Ancient and Medieval History at the University of Birmingham. I have a just turned four-year-old son, Sam, who keeps me busy outside of work. I live in North London, near Hampstead Heath – so spend a lot of time up there. I love running and walking. And if I ever get time, I like to paint.

At GT, I lead a team of around 130 people across all of the disciplines you’d expect to see in a large team like this – from strategic marketing to Pursuits to client voice and our digital marketing team.

DR: Covid-19 has affected everyone’s industry, and some more than others (i.e. travel), but what’s been the impact on professional services this past year, and Grant Thornton specifically? Furthermore, how have you been overcoming this impact?


: I think we all assumed the worst or at least planned for the worst when the pandemic started. As a business, we were quick to respond and consider how we needed to adapt to manage our business through such an unpredictable and uncertain time. Our people responded brilliantly and our IT infrastructure and related support and education meant we really easily transitioned to doing business in a virtual world – and we found that we were able to maintain strong levels of client service and interaction throughout. It’s hard to generalise obviously, but I think clients have looked more to their professional advisors during the last year – as sounding boards, to try and learn via their advisors what others are doing to get through this. And so I think the professional services have had the opportunity to really step up and be there for their clients at a time of need.

In terms of our business, there were of course challenges for us in 2020, the year didn’t play out at all how we expected it to at the start of the 2020 – it didn’t for anybody – we had to recalibrate several times. But we came out strong and we’ve had a brilliant start to this year across our entire business. And I think the reason we’ve performed strongly during this time is that we’ve been very agile in our approach, we’ve worked hard to stay close to our clients, to really listen and understand what they were going through, to consider how we could support them at whichever stage of responding to the pandemic they were going through. As a marketing and BD team, we pivoted entirely at the start of the pandemic and switched our focus to working with our service line experts to look at how we could best support our clients through the pandemic – and we kept evolving this as situations and challenges developed. You could argue it brought out the best in us, everyone pulled together, we collaborated effectively and efficiently, and most importantly we remained focused on what our clients needed.

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