Merging two highly distinct financial institutions is, in and of itself, difficult. Throw in an altogether competitive and rapidly emerging investment market, plus the vital responsibility of easing the transition for staff and clients alike, and you’ve got a real challenge.
In the case of the merger of Affin Investment Bank and HwangDBS Investment Bank, Lippincott was charged with not only helping the two Malaysian firms navigate the obstacles inherent in ambitious new mergers, but also with the critical task of credibly conveying that this was a merger of equals and not a veiled takeover. We were tasked with ensuring that every stakeholder would view the merger as a significant gain in value, capabilities and potential — in other words, a complete win-win.
Paving the way to greater value on a national stage
The merger of Affin Investment Bank and HwangDBS Investment Bank was a landmark Malaysian investment banking M&A exercise. The deal created a national player with top-tier market share in investment banking, institutional securities/brokerage and asset management.
But enhancing value through the merger of two institutions with clearly distinct legacies is fraught with risks. And doing so in a dynamic emerging market is even more challenging.
Working with the management team at Affin Investment Bank and HwangDBS Investment Bank, Lippincott’s first focus was to develop a new platform and identity to symbolize a merger of equals. The new name, Affin Hwang Capital, helps broaden connotations to international capital markets and expand the capabilities of the firm.
As important as the identity was the development of a tagline, one that could succinctly articulate the new brand platform as a statement of intent for staff and a bold promise to clients. The Lippincott solution left no doubt as to the firm’s objective, “Out think. Out perform.”
Lippincott next strategized and executed a complete communications program and launch plan to project growth and highlight connections across audiences. We intentionally linked emotive and logical components in the brand purpose.
Rallying the organization, inside out
Significant value resided in the skills of Affin Hwang Capital’s people and their extensive client relationships. That was why ensuring the brand’s platform emphasized a merger of equals was critical — for clients and staff alike.
“Lippincott helped us put our brand at the center of the integration decision-making. Doing so created tremendous value for our new company, ensuring we could deliver on the promise of the merger to clients while also giving employees a sense of belonging in the new organization.”
— Datuk Maimoonah Hussain, Group Managing Director, Affin Hwang Capital
Rolling out the new brand to 1,300+ staff in the company’s dual headquarters of Kuala Lumpur and Penang was critical. We devised an integrated program that spanned workspace design to launch events and digital communications to create excitement and engagement around the new brand. Finally, we identified opportunities to align the staff experience with the new brand and created a clear employee experience road map for future programs and success.
Customer Day One … and beyond
With a brand platform, narrative and new corporate name in place, we went on to define the brand architecture across six business lines, 20 product groups and the businesses’ various digital intellectual property platforms, ensuring they all laddered up to the corporate level.
A striking new corporate identity and visual system brought the heritage and ambition of Affin Hwang Capital to the forefront. We used color to subtly link the revitalized palette to the wider Affin Banking Group. The new visual tools were supported with a verbal communication system and put to the test in a Day-One national media launch of the new brand across external audiences.
The interlocking planes of the identity — inspired by the unity of the federal flag — and design system expressed the new scale of Affin Hwang Capital and its unified and collaborative culture. The geometric composition also reflects the pioneering spirit of the brand, symbolized by an arrow and multiple perspectives.
“Lippincott’s insights, guidance, collaborative approach and quality of design thinking enabled us to successfully convey our aspirations while effectively signaling our new scale to both our staff and the market.”
— Johan Rozali-Wathooth, Deputy Managing Director, Affin Hwang Asset Management
There were just 200 days from project kickoff to the launch of the brand across all client-facing channels. The results are no less stunning. Over the course of the integration not one member of senior management left the company. Since launch, the new Affin Hwang Capital has reported a 21 percent increase in total assets and an 11 percent increase in net income.
senior management departures during the integration
days from kickoff to launch across all client-facing channels
increase in net income since launch
Data is YE2014 to YE2016, from annual reports.