Building powerfully unified new brands after a transformational acquisition.

Global consulting firm ICF had expanded exponentially through acquisitions and organic growth. Along the way, it had evolved from primarily serving government agencies to partnering with both commercial and public-sector clients. Leadership recognized a growing need across ICF’s diversifying client base: digital communications to support every implementation. That led to the acquisition of a major marketing communications agency—and a brand challenge. Two very different businesses needed to inspire stakeholders with a carefully calibrated value proposition.

Advertisement with coastline and We Make Big Things Possible

Imagining the possibilities.

Our engagement with ICF started with a deep discovery phase. Research revealed that the firm was most admired for turning its clients’ highest aspirations into reality. Their contributions drove hugely significant outcomes across sectors, public and private.

We knew ICF would only expand its impact by combining its technical, highly focused consulting with award-winning digital communications. That promise inspired the phrase that would crystallize their new brand:

“We Make Big Things Possible.”

In the crowded competitive field of pure strategy firms and niche-focused technology players, this bold invitation carved out a position ICF could defend.

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Airplane wing Dream Big. Then call ICF

Integrated independence: ICF Next.

ICF’s new marketing communications and digital practice was a unique asset, so we needed to position it strategically. It needed to service ICF. But it also needed to maintain its own identity, standing strong against pure-play agency competitors. To make the challenge even more complex, it came with a vastly different culture.

We branded this integrated business as ICF Next. As a standout sub brand that looked right at home, it could drive ICF implementations while serving its own client base. As part of the ICF family (rather than a rebranded subsidiary), it could also rally employees to appreciate ICF’s creativity in combining diverse strengths and professionals.

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Specialized expertise. Shared impact.

ICF’s new brand launched with an external marketing campaign and a global employee engagement program that energized the entire company.

All employees learned how their expertise, no matter how specialized, contributed to transformational outcomes for clients. Long-serving ICF staff explored the culture and strengths of their new marketing communications practice. And employees at the firm’s new internal agency learned just how much of a difference they would make in the world as part of ICF.

The rebranded ICF became known as the partner of choice for doing the biggest things. ICF Next, while transforming ICF’s offering, achieved remarkable growth in its own right. It did so well, in fact, that ICF Next spun off its commercial marketing group in September 2023.

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