In my last year of grad school, I had a course that covered a pretty big topic: rebranding. I remember sitting at my desk reading articles on eCampus about major companies that have rebranded in the past and thinking, “How cool is this?” It was amazing to me how these companies we studied have successfully rebranded their entire identity – because this didn’t seem like an easy task. I was early on in my career and wasn’t sure if I would ever come across this, but loved learning about it.
Around the same time my current employer, Federated Investors, was in the process of acquiring a London-based investment firm called Hermes Investment Management. Two years later Federated publicly announced its plan to change its name to Federated Hermes, Inc. As a member of Federated’s marketing communications team, I found myself right in the middle of it all.
In addition to the merger of assets and employees, the two companies wanted their union to reflect the same mission, vision and values. The rebrand work started long before Federated publicly announced the name change. We hired a branding agency to assist with creating a new logo, corporate messaging and an implementation and execution timeline. After months of industry research, design proposals, idea workshops and discussions, the agency unveiled our new identity this past February at a company-wide event.
The unveiling was internal only, meant exclusively for employees of the new Federated Hermes, Inc. Despite all of the planning and coordinated efforts to carry out the name change, for some it might have seemed to have happened overnight. As employees walked into the office at the beginning of that week, our new identity was everywhere: signs featuring the new name and logo decorated the walls, kiosks explaining our new corporate philosophy lined hallways and “desks drops” consisting of new stationery could be found on each of our more than 1800 employees desks.
Throughout the agency’s presentation about the rebrand, the common theme was “Responsibility Works.” The new branding was designed to create a business that showcases the belief that responsible investing is the best way to contribute to long-term growth and financial security. As an investment firm with $575 billion in assets under management, Federated Hermes wanted to make it clear to clients around the world that it is committed to long-term business growth, client-centric investing, responsibility and active management. By investing responsibly, Federated Hermes aims to help people invest and retire better, to help clients achieve better risk-adjusted returns, and, where possible, to contribute to positive outcomes in the wider world.
As we were taught in WVU IMC’s rebranding course, it’s important for employees to adhere to the messaging of the new brand to provide uniformity and consistency for the company. Following our branding agency’s presentation, which was livestreamed at all of Federated Hermes’ locations, everyone appeared to be excited and eager for the future. But, this also meant that there was a huge challenge ahead of us: execution. It is the employees’ job to turn the vision into reality and to distribute this new message to our clients and the public. It takes time, and as a member of the marketing and communications department, I was fully emerged in most of these challenges.
Following the announcement of our new name, we are working to redo all of our literature pieces, the website, social media and advertising. We have to update logos, color patterns, fonts, imagery and marketing material templates from annual reports to business cards. Yes, this is going to be a lot of work—but it is exciting! Our marketing, digital, corporate communications and design teams are working hand-in-hand to make sure everything gets executed properly, consistently and in a timely manner. It is wonderful to see the team work exuberating from my department because we all know we need each other to make this happen.
If you’re making the drive from Morgantown to Pittsburgh, you’re likely to pass through the Fort Pitt tunnel, which most of you probably know is famous for its amazing view of the city. Pay attention on your drive, and you’ll see the Federated building where the Strip District meets downtown Pittsburgh. Our building has become an iconic part of the skyline and reminds people that Federated is proud to have its headquarters here. In the months to come, the sign will change, and people will begin to associate the building has called home since 1986 with our new identity Federated Hermes. Although our proud history will not change, the new look will reflect the transformation of a classic brand moving into a positive and responsible future.
Alexa Yaksich is an alumna of the West Virginia University Online Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications, Class of 2018. She is currently the Marketing Communications Specialist for Federated Hermes, Inc., an investment manager headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.