In Avenue’s decade-plus experience working with middle-market companies, we’ve found brand strategy to be a powerful lever for accelerating post-merger integration and realizing the full potential of a newly combined entity. This is one such story.
A private equity firm acquired two promising entities in the food container space—Tosca, a 58-year-old Wisconsin-based company, and the reusable plastic container (RPC) unit of Georgia Pacific. This combined entity—the new Tosca—had aspirations of becoming the dominant national player in the rapidly growing food container industry.
Tosca’s president, Eric Frank—formerly head of the GP business—faced many challenges common to leaders in post-merger situations, including:
How could the two businesses be successfully joined into a single entity with a common vision and culture and a shared brand and marketing message?
“It was a clash of cultures and visions between two very different companies. We needed help knitting them together,” said Frank. “We knew we wanted to be more, but we didn’t quite know how to get there exactly.”
He and his leadership team needed to define a compelling vision and purpose and assign new values to align team members with their organization. They also needed a differentiated and compelling brand and market message to convey the strength of the merged entity.
The first step was to fully understand what Tosca needed. We learned that its customers wanted more than just a box vendor; they wanted a supply chain partner with experts who take the time to understand their business and collaborate with them to create a solution. Together these insights became the guidepost for all decisions going forward.
We began by leading various members of Tosca’s leadership and functional areas through a series of highly interactive planning workshops. This approach allowed us to quickly identify areas of misalignment and differing viewpoints. We used various tools to facilitate discussions that ultimately enabled participants to envision their new future together.
The outcome: one company, one brand, one voice. Tosca is now an organization unified through its mission to “revolutionize the flow of perishables”; new values built on the most desirable attitudinal and behavioral traits of both legacy organizations; a clear and compelling new market message; and a highly differentiated new brand identity that visually represents the movement of a supply chain.
Leadership and employees are energized about the new strategy and feel confident about its upcoming reception in the industry.
According to Frank, customers are starting to notice and comment on the new Tosca. “We’re already seeing more leads and more interest in our work. Our customers understand what we can do for them, and it’s broader than what we’ve done in the past. They understand how we can help them now.”
1. Develop a deep understanding of what matters most to customers and use this as the primary criteria for all decisions.
2. Speed alignment within the new organization by:
3. Identify a purpose that the new organization can rally behind to help erode legacy and territorial issues.
4. Over-communicate using directness and honesty.
5. Develop a new—or refreshed—visual identity to serve as a powerful symbol of change to both internal and external audiences.
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