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Communicating Change through Branding

Mergers seem to be a daily occurrence in our industry, but there isn’t a standardized way to communicate them. The following takes you through how The Cecil Group and Harriman decided to use The Cecil Group’s logo to communicate its recent merger.

Leading up to The Cecil Group’s merger with Harriman we had to make some key decisions on branding. Questions we considered included:

  • What would happen with the firm names?
  • What logo would prevail?
  • How would people see us?
  • How quickly and drastically should we move?

We researched how other firms handled similar transitions in our market. Many choose to leave all branding intact. We took a different approach. For Harriman, the merger meant building a bigger presence in Boston and for The Cecil Group it meant expanding our resources as a firm. We decided early on that The Cecil Group would eventually be known as Harriman, but we wrestled with how to introduce the Harriman name into The Cecil Group’s market without losing the value of The Cecil Group’s existing brand.

We started with carefully crafted messaging that explained what both firms do, where they will be working, and how they will integrate. Our communications portrayed the merger as an exciting step toward growth and opportunity for each firm, but we were missing the visual cue.

Knowing a strong visual cue would be important in helping transition The Cecil Group to Harriman, we updated The Cecil Group’s logo to reflect Harriman’s branding. We kept The Cecil Group’s fonts and logo design, but swapped out The Cecil Group’s red logo color for Harriman’s green logo color and added an H to the bottom square of the logo. We swapped out “Planning and Design” with “a subsidiary of Harriman,” which reflects our service extension to architecture and engineering and begins to introduce Harriman’s name to The Cecil Group’s clients and colleagues. These elements have been incorporated throughout The Cecil Group’s website, social media channels, proposal materials, client communications, and report and presentation templates.

The intermediary branding provides another touchpoint in our business development efforts. The visual change in our logo and identity gives our seller/doers another opportunity to discuss the merger, long after the initial PR blitz ended. It allows the story to emerge in proposals and in interviews where The Cecil Group is already a known entity.  Internally, staff at The Cecil Group have embraced the new identity. By slightly modifying the logo and other elements we were able to visually communicate that positive change was happening.

Over time, we will remove elements that relate to The Cecil Group and embrace Harriman’s brand that has been so well-known in Maine and New Hampshire for more than a century. At that time, the urban design and planning studio formerly known as The Cecil Group will be a well-integrated part of the Harriman identity.

The Cecil Group is proud to sponsor SMPS Boston.


Valerie Puchades, CPSM served as SMPS Boston Chapter President for the 2018/2019 program year and is Director of Marketing at GUND Partnership.

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