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National Big-E, Little-A Firm Acquires 100-Yearold Southeastern Architecture Firm

In the fall of 2020, SSOE Group was looking for a M&A branding consulting firm to help navigate a major acquisition of 100-year-old firm, Stevens & Wilkinson (S&W) with the goal of establishing a branding and communication strategy that would leverage the synergies between the two firms.   

While both firms were technically “multi-disciplined”, the market perception was that SSOE was a national big “E” (for engineering) focused on industrial projects while S&W was a big “A” (for architecture) serving the general building categories in Georgia and South Caroline. From a business perspective, SSOE purchased S&W to capitalize on the much larger General Building market that is naturally architecturally driven but the two firms did have some cross-over markets – Healthcare, Commercial, and Education.

Smartegies served as the marketing agency, responsible for the development of a branding and

communication plan related to the acquisition. We were engaged six-months prior to the acquisition being finalized, allowing time to conduct market research and facilitate strategic discissions before formulating recommendations.

Smartegies used a 4-step process to derive our recommendations:

  1. Discovery – Understanding how the firms have gone to market in the past, who their targets were, and what the brands were currently known for within the market. By understanding what has been done and its effectiveness, Smartegies focused on tactics to continue building on successful efforts to elevate the new joint brand to the next level.
  • Competitive Benchmarking – Looking holistically at the competition to understand what they are doing, saying, and who makes up their client list to create campaigns that would either level the playing field or separate SSOE|S&W from the pack.
  • Market Immersion – Taking a deep dive into the current states of the various markets the firms service to understand where the market is headed, what key topics of interest are, who the authoritative voices are, and sources for information. Knowing the markets allowed Smartegies to recommend plans that were current and relevant to the needs and challenges facing the market so that messaging would resonate, resulting in positive brand experiences for the clients.
  • Ideation – Exploring options to help advance the new joint brand with the various target audience groups in a way that will drive enhanced brand awareness and understanding, strengthen relationships, promote opportunities, and lead to growth. Taking time to plan allowed us to develop campaigns that were integrated, leveraging assets for multiple uses, and increasing their ROI.

Smartegies services included:

  • Branding Strategy on how to position the firm post-acquisition
  • Building internal stakeholder buy-in around the strategy
  • Program Management for the announcement launch roll-out internally and externally
  • Training around key talking points and success factors
  • Copy writing for key messages and deliverables
  • Graphic design for new marketing templates
  • Digital design for electronic communication including website updates and specialty landing pages
  • Video production
  • Vendor sourcing and management for new branded SWAG

Following the success of the co-branded launch, Smartegies has remained engaged with SSOE|S&W, providing digital marketing campaign strategy and implementation services as well as general marketing and communication strategy.