Long Read  

Why the Tilney Smith & Williamson names are disappearing

Why the Tilney Smith & Williamson names are disappearing
Credit: Pixabay via Pexels

With more than three centuries of history combined, the Tilney Smith & Williamson group announced this month that it was to enter a new era under the name Evelyn Partners.

“We wanted a name that would be bold and fresh, and would reflect our purpose and our ambition, rather than one which sounded very corporate and would end up being abbreviated in a haphazard way,” explains Simonetta Rigo, chief marketing officer at Tilney Smith & Williamson. 

“Of course we always had the option of using Tilney Smith & Williamson as the ongoing brand. But we quickly recognised that it was too long and wouldn’t be optimal in the digital age. Both externally and internally it was variously being shortened to TSW, TS&W, Tilney S&W or just Tilney.”

A merger, not a takeover

The rebrand, which takes place in the summer, follows the completed merger of the two businesses in 2020 – Tilney, the investment and financial planning business, and Smith & Williamson, the financial and professional services business – after which the group began going by its current name.

Despite the tendency for it to be referred to as ‘Tilney’ out of convenience, to formalise the moniker would carry the risk of re-characterising the merger as a takeover.

“Our market research confirmed that both Tilney and Smith & Williamson brands enjoy strong service reputations, but neither stood out as being more well-known than the other,” says Rigo.

“The research also showed that the brands were well-liked by their legacy colleagues and clients. But if either was used as the brand for the whole business, then it would risk disenfranchising the sizeable number of colleagues and clients who had come from the other company. It would make the merger seem like a takeover.

“It was this thorough research process that led us to the conclusion that we should identify a new brand for the combined group, recognising that the integration was largely behind us and we were now ready to become truly one firm.”

Rigo says there can be value in retaining multiple brands where they attract very different types of clients, but the group’s market research found that clients of both businesses have very similar needs. “Given they were both attracting the same type of client, we soon concluded that it would be inefficient to retain and run both brands separately.”

A name for the 21st century

Adam Taylor, head of design at Clients First, a financial services marketing agency, says a common reason for rebranding is a feeling that a business has outgrown its current brand that is no longer fit for purpose. This is especially the case if it was established in the infancy of a business, when it is often created out of necessity.

“Having completed the merger transaction in September 2020, determining our future brand strategy was a key integration project which we began work on in early 2021,” says Rigo. “Initially we only rebranded the top company Tilney Smith & Williamson on completion of the deal, while the client-facing brands have remained separate and unchanged during the integration phase.”