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. So when you’re buying and selling companies, vision and culture become business-critical. That’s where having a clear brand can help. It gives people something to rally round, and expresses the spirit you’re trying to create.

David Frise, CEO of the FIS, says “We’re now one organisation and culturally the same – but it wasn’t always like this.” The merger of trade associations AIS (Association of Interior Specialists) and FPDC (Federation of Plasterers and Drywall Contractors) resulted in bolting together the two organisations to create the unwieldy AISFPDC.

The name apart, the two organisations were also culturally very different. “On paper, it’s really easy. 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. You carry on and everything’s fine. But actually, culturally they were quite different. The drylining, plastering side had, I think they wouldn’t mind me saying, an aggressive, much more aggressive view of the world, and probably quite right because it’s a tough, tough world. They didn’t take any prisoners. In the fit-out side, it was more about, “We need to be nice to people and massage them, be more political about things to get them together.”

So our job with the rebrand was to find the common ground, to define a new shared vision and to bring everyone involved on the journey to create one organisation. Some things were simpler than others like, what colour are we going to be? One was blue and was red so the new merged organisation is purple (blue + red). Deeper, stronger discussions were had around the name and our belief the new body should be a voice for the sector. A grand ambition but that’s the point of a vision. And so the FIS was born representing the Finishes and Interiors Sector.

The branding has helped create one organisation, giving it a strong voice in the sector, engaging with more members and launching crucial initiatives such as FIS Skills.

Final word goes to David Frise: “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.”

 

5 things to consider in a merger rebrand
1. Focus on the common ground – how we can take the best bits of both companies and create a brand that does deliver value?

2. This is more than just a logo and a name – they’re important but you have to go deeper with values, tone of voice and culture

3. The vision thing is what inspires and engages people – mergers often focus on operations, sales and technology. People are what make mergers successful.

4. Tell people what’s going on – if not, they’ll fill in the void with all sorts of stories. Their biggest fear is, will I still have a job? Answer their questions of ‘What’s in it for me?’ and  ‘Where’s the opportunity?

5. Be prepared to be bold – you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.

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