BKD and DHG Demonstrate Importance of Branding Process

Merger of equals showcases forward vision in new name, FORVIS.
Forvis Merger Map Lead 2

Starting June 1, one of Denver’s most familiar faces in accounting and professional services will have a new name: FORVIS. BKD CPAs & Advisors, best known for its accounting, audit/assurance, tax, risk management, and valuation services, will complete its merger of equals with Charlotte-based DHG.

Combined, the new firm will immediately become a top-10 national professional services firm providing assurance, tax and advisory services, and employ 5,400 partners and team members with a combined $1.4 billion in revenue with offices across the United States and internationally. Denver’s office will remain a hub for the region.

We at ColoradoBiz, think they’re onto something.

As someone with a number of years in public relations, and a fair share of branding exercises under my belt, what’s often most interesting to me is the new identity that emerges from a merger. Bringing together two companies can reveal all sorts of questions (and dilemmas) with the company name often glaring at the top of the list.

Do you drop your name and years of hard-fought brand equity? Who will give? Who will take?

What about a totally new name and leverage the opportunity to create from a clean slate? Plus, if you serve your customers well, they may simply evolve along with what you call your firm, right? Combined knowledge and lessons learned from both organizations can be tempting. It can also be a fair compromise when two organizations of equivalent caliber come together.

BKD and DHG have opted for the latter. According to the two organization’s announcement, the name FORVIS is a combination of the words: forward and vision.

The success Forward, and Vision.

The name FORVIS is meant to reflect the unique heritage of each firm but also the way the combined firm will operate moving forward. In creating a new name, FORVIS’ leadership sought a moniker that reflected eight shared brand attributes: purposeful, people first, industry intelligence, high quality, ultra-responsive, innovative, forward-thinking, and driven.

“It’s less about the brand than people realize and more about the alignment. Eighty percent of rebrand efforts fail because organizations don’t gain alignment from their employees,” says Jen Lester, co-founder of Philosophy Communication, Inc., a woman-owned public relations, marketing, and branding firm in Denver.

“If you want the rebrand to succeed, you need to include all voices, provide feedback mechanisms throughout the process, and conclude with a company-wide reveal. Not only does this method work, it fosters a very loud rally cry,” adds Lester; noting the examination of as many as 200 names can be critical to fully explore the options, it’s a robust process and one that should not be taken lightly.

BKD and DHG announced their intent to merge under a new name in February. FORVIS will be ranked No. 8 nationally by Fiscal Year 2021 revenue and will be poised for further growth as it focuses on offering expanded advisory services and highly specialized industry intelligence in addition to tax and audit services. Tom Watson, formerly the CEO of BKD will serve as FORVIS’ new CEO.

To help tell its firm’s new story, FORVIS created a webpage explain the name change and its plans going forward: FutureFocusedFirm.com. The company’s new website is now live at FORVIS.com.

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