Re-branding a Financial Service Firm in a Merger Environment

We hope that you will find the following case to be helpful.  If, after reading, you would like to learn more about our experience, please contact Kerry Kielb at kkielb@bedfordgroupconsulting.com.

Company Profile:
Top 2 U.S. Financial Services Company

Background (mid-1990s):
The (then) #5 financial institution merged with the #7 firm to create the largest banking company in the U.S. One firm had a market reputation as primarily a consumer bank. The other had an $8 billion corporate/ investment-banking unit (“Client”).

Situation:

  • The corporate/investment banking unit (Client) was greatly concerned that the merger would seriously hurt its reputation with its corporate clients and would lead to client concern that the “new” organization would reduce its focus on corporate and investment banking services.
  • Conflict existed between the consumer unit and investment-banking unit regarding the timing and details of merger communications strategy and re-branding.
    • Consumer organization was merging separate geographical areas with no overlap.
      • No driving need to make changes or communicate any issues with customers
      • Allowed them the luxury of waiting as long as necessary to announce a name change, merge service offerings, etc.
    • Investment-banking unit was legally required to begin operating as one with the consumer unit on the first day of the legal merger.
  • The merged entity needed to overcome the challenge of communicating the merger to a global audience of large business leaders while not causing confusion with the man on the street, who was not going to see immediate changes in their bank branch.
  • At the same time, all parties agreed that a unified core positioning strategy for consumer and corporate markets was desirable.

Contribution:
In the role of brand and marketing communications director, a TBG partner led the marketing representation of the Client with the merger transition team.

  • Negotiated extensively with team members from the new partner (who were primarily focused on consumer needs) to gain their understanding of the major issues involved in not moving forward with a merger marketing strategy for the Client, which would precede the consumer marketing work.
  • Initiated substantial research and design process:
    • Commissioned research to determine the core attributes most important to corporate customers.
    • Interpreted research data using sophisticated laddering technique to determine behaviors
      and actions a firm must exhibit to prove they have the most desired attributes.
    • Overlaid laddering results with consumer attribute data to look for points of commonality.
    • Isolated core attributes & designed marketing communications programs to express the attributes appropriate to the target audience (consumer to corporate CEO).
  • Built carefully crafted internal communications and external marketing programs to introduce the newly merged organization around the world to larger corporations at the time of the legal merger of the two companies.

This program would precede the consumer launch by 6 months.

Client Impact:
The program successfully launched the new corporate and investment banking organization to its constituents without causing confusion with consumer markets.