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Hanon McKendry merges with competing marketing firm

August 1, 2013
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Hanon McKendry merges with competing marketing firm
Grand Rapids-based branding firm DOMOREGOOD | hanon mckendry focuses on corporate social responsibility. Image via fb.com

A Grand Rapids-based branding firm has merged with a competitor — and the combined agency will focus on a new niche.

Hanon McKendry, founded in 1995, has merged with strategic branding and marketing firm The CSK Group, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., and both firms will begin operating under the name DOMOREGOOD.

Hanon McKendry’s Bob Blanchard will serve as CEO, and The CSK Group’s Steve Maegdlin will serve as president.

The offices will initially operate as DOMOREGOOD | hanon mckendry and DOMOREGOOD | csk within their respective local communities, which will help them leverage the brand equity both firms have built.

Hanon McKendry and The CSK Group have served as competitors and collaborators in the past, gaining a mutual respect for each other’s work out of both scenarios.

Blanchard said that through their dealings, it became clear that both firms have a lot in common, in terms of vision, while, at the same time, they provide distinct services and capabilities that are highly complementary.

“Some mergers are based on market share,” Blanchard said. “This is not about that.”

Instead, Blanchard said that the two firms realized that by combining their capabilities and services they could better serve their current and future client roster.

The combined company has approximately 55 employees.

DOMOREGOOD and corporate social responsibility

The change to DOMOREGOOD, which Blanchard admits is a non-traditional name for a branding and marketing firm, reflects a significant change in the branding and marketing arena, as well as the direction that Hanon McKendry and CSK wish to go with their clients.

Blanchard cited the findings of the Edelman goodpurpose Study, which is an annual study that explores consumer attitudes around social purpose: Consumers are demanding a higher level of social responsibility from brands and corporations, and despite some companies doing a very good job with corporate social responsibility, many are still missing the boat either in their actions or in their ability to convey their CSR commitment to consumers.

Eight-seven percent of consumers believe that businesses should place at least equal weight on societal issues and business issues, according to the 2012 study. Yet, only 28 percent believe businesses are doing this well.

The study results speak to Hanon McKendry and CSK, and going forward, DOMOREGOOD will work with clients to help them develop their brands around this growing consumer consciousness, where marketing a company’s values to customers is just as important, if not more, as marketing a product or service.

Companies that do reflect their social purpose well are receiving huge payoffs and gaining brand loyalty with today’s consumers, he said.

Blanchard pointed out Chipotle and local coffee company Madcap as examples of companies that know how to market their values along with their product and said that’s what DOMOREGOOD will help companies identify and learn how to do better.

Blanchard said he’s looking forward to working with brands that truly want to make a difference.

Advertising a marketing a firm

Along with its unique name, another atypical move DOMOREGOOD plans to make is to begin advertising itself.

Blanchard said advertising would focus on appealing to clients and employees.

Firm integration

He acknowledged that challenges are a regular part of mergers, with merging office cultures and fear of disappearing jobs serving as key hurdles.

However, he reiterated that the company doesn’t plan to do away with any positions and is more likely to grow instead.

He also noted that both Hanon McKendry and CSK have experience with mergers, and he doesn’t expect any culture clashes to dampen the environment of either office. He said the two offices would continue to operate with their distinct cultures intact.

Finally, the merger is likely to strengthen the Gravity Six Alliance, which Hanon McKendry is a member of with five other firms. Blanchard said the addition of CSK’s capabilities would only help as the alliance pursues new projects.

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