Rebranding efforts under way at Frazee Ivy Davis as accounting firm eyes future growth

by Michael Shefield

Published in the Memphis Business Journal, February 4, 2008

In the year since accounting firm Frazee Ivy Davis PLC was formed through the merging of three firms, significant capital investment has been made in equipment and people.

About $100,000 was spent on new computers, new phone system, software, training, office furnishing and standardization efforts, says partner Alex Ivy.

“We’ve had some good outcomes in those areas and we know specifically what we need to accomplish in the next several months and in the longer run,” Ivy says.

The firm is about to methodically unveil a rebranding image that the partners hope conveys the best aspects of the combined entities.

Work on that began in the summer when Frazee Ivy Davis hired the branding firm Tactical Magic to help it create a unifying identity.

A new logo, which focuses on the three initials of the firm and tag line “CPAs that Add Value” was approved in December. It should first start showing up on letter head and business cards in early 2008, Ivy says. Next will come work on a new Web site, marketing materials and other signage. Farther down the road are traditional marketing practices like submitting articles and possibly corporate sponsorships.

“We want to have some name recognition for this new firm,” he says. “We haven’t had the communication tools to set us apart.”

Trace Hallowell, managing partner and creative director for Tactical Magic, says setting an accounting firm apart is tricky.

“We found it’s as important in the world of accounting to be credible as it is to be singular,” he says.

The task for Frazee Ivy Davis was to emphasize the heritage of the firm, with Frazee’s history dating back to the 1950s, and integrity, which accounting clients demand.

But those are common characteristics of many accounting firms.

“There’s a lot of sameness and tameness in the firms,” Hallowell says. “That’s for a good reason. You don’t want an outlandish creative firm. You want thoughtful, proactive and ingenious, but also cautious and intelligent.”

Ivy concurs.

“We’re sort of a reticent bunch,” says Ivy, whose other partners include brother John Ivy Jr., William Frazee and Jerry Davis.

But he acknowledges that has to change, both clients and recruiting.

Being able to demonstrate investments in the future with new technology, training, proactive marketing and maybe more acquisitions is what lures young, would-be CPAs, Ivy says.

Five new accounting staff members have been added since November 2006, bringing the firm up to 29. At least three new professional staff members are expected to be added in 2008. That would put Frazee Ivy Davis at No. 11 on Memphis Business Journal’s list of Largest Memphis CPA firms.

The 9,700 square feet the firm has on the 14th floor of Clark Tower has enough space to accommodate about 35, Ivy says. Investments in the last year and the new marketing effort are meant to take the firm well beyond that, he says.

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"A house of brands is like a family, each needs a role and a relationship to others."
- Jeffrey Sinclair