The Merger: From Two to One

We're now one organisation and culturally the same.

David Frise

CEO, FIS

 

50% of mergers fail. Global M&A activity in 2017 topped $3 trillion. That’s $1.5 trillion of wasted opportunity. We think poor branding could be a big part of the problem.

Why? Most of us are wired to dislike change. And one of the quickest ways to help teams get over those nerves when you’re buying and selling companies is to give them a clear story, mission or vision to rally around. Build a culture they want to be part of.

David Frise, CEO of the FIS has experienced this first hand. When the trade associations AIS (Association of Interior Specialists) and FPDC (Federation of Plasterers and Drywall Contractors) merged, it was less a merging of minds and more a merging of letters (for a while the new association had the unwieldy title of AISFPDC).

“On paper, it’s really easy,” David told us. “You’ve got two organisations that did similar things in the construction sector, you just put them together. You have a single administrative body, and Bob’s your uncle. But actually, culturally they were quite different.”

In fact, the cultures were so different that it was only by rebranding that FIS could find a common ground between them. Some changes were simple and remarkably effective, like choosing a new brand colour. AIS was blue, FPDC was red, so the new brand was purple – a perfect mix of the two.

Choosing a new name was harder. But this time the brief was clear: find a name that stands for something, and represents the voice they wanted to have in the sector. And so the FIS (or Finishes and Interiors Sector) was born.

It’s taken time, but now the new body is really beginning to feel like one organisation, with one strong voice in its sector. The new brand has also helped FIS engage with more members and launch FIS Skills to help get more people joining the interiors and finishes industry.

It’s taken commitment, too – but that’s what you need to make a merger work. As David says, “If you don’t follow through on the thing that you said you were going to do, the vision, the delivery of that vision, you’ll get nowhere.”

Four things to consider in a merger rebrand

1. Focus on the common ground. Always ask how you can take the best bits of both companies to create something that feels valuable and works for everyone (even if that’s as simple as merging your colour palettes).

2. Look beyond the logo. New names and new logos are important. But it’s the stories you tell, the new values you use and the culture you create that’ll make or break you. So before you get bogged down in typical tech and operational changes, make sure you’ve given your people an engaging story they can get behind. Remember, they’re the ones who’ll make your merger successful.

3. Tell a clear story. Change and uncertainty make people nervous. Answer the questions you know everyone’s asking: Will I have a job? What’s in it for me? If you don’t, they’ll fill your silence with answers of their own.

4. Be bold – there’s a lot to do. You can’t cross a chasm in two small steps.

 

So, if you’re on the brink of merging, and you want to make sure it truly creates value, get in touch.

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