Building a Balanced Portfolio of Brands
After the great recession, the institutional asset management (IAM) industry was in complete disruption. Firms were examining ways to transform their organizational structures to minimize any appearance of conflict or impropriety. As such, SunTrust leadership decided to spin-off its institutional asset management business from the retail bank. This decision left six organizations, the IAM holding company, and the five boutique funds, needing to create new brands to replace the previously branded SunTrust ones. FullSurge was brought in to help SunTrust 1) develop six brand positionings that were distinctive from each other and differentiating from the competition 2) create six proprietary and trademarkable names to help communicate each brands’ raison d’etre. 3) create one-of-a-kind identities to visual represent each brand’s story.
FullSurge began with a comprehensive audit of the institutional asset management business by analyzing how key competitors were positioning themselves. First, we benchmarked the IAM holding company brands and encountered a sea of sameness – messages around trust. In fact, it was impossible to discern one brand’s messaging from another brand's. We then held a brand positioning workshop with the holding company leadership team to discuss what was truly unique about their investment management philosophy and style. From this, we learned about their relentless commitment to creating a culture of partnership and their focus on winning by attracting and retaining top talent.
Based on these findings, we defined the brand positioning and the naming creative directions. RidgeWorth – a combined associative noun formed from ridge: the long and narrow upper edge or crest of something and worth: excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem – was selected as the new holding company name. We then set about to create a brand identity that would visually communicate the brand story as well as differentiate RidgeWorth from its competitors. To visually represent both the individual insight of the five boutique funds and the collective strength of RidgeWorth, three key brand elements were created; 1) a new typeface to communicate their uniqueness, 2) a color palate intended to highlight their boldness and confidence, and 3) a visual device that communicates their commitment to assembling teams that are the pinnacle in their respective fields.
With the RidgeWorth brand created, we commenced developing the five boutique fund brands following the same methodology as above. When the project was complete, we had developed six highly distinctive brands – RidgeWorth and Ceredex, IronOak, Silvant, StableRiver, and Certium – each with their own unique story and brand identity.
First, we benchmarked the IAM holding company brands and encountered a sea of sameness – messages around trust. In fact, it was impossible to discern one brand’s messaging from another brand's.
The six new brands had a measured impact on stakeholders across the board. For employees, the new brands were introduced via a high-energy organization-wide meeting. The energy around the new brands was infectious, and RidgeWorth leaders have praised how the new brand identity successfully brought all employees, both holding company and fund, under a single purpose while still allowing for individuality. For existing customers, the new brands reinforced the organization’s overall market commitment and highlighted their areas of expertise and specialty. For prospective customers, each brand’s uniqueness and distinctiveness enabled them to understand each brand’s value proposition and match their investment objectives with the fund’s investment strategy.