Sensiba: Closing the gap between brand and culture

The people at Sensiba are accountants, consultants, tax experts, and sustainability leaders. They’re a CPA and consulting firm based in the San Francisco bay area, with offices across the West Coast. Their work is wide-reaching, from public accounting to helping large organizations certify as B Corporations. In every field, they’re guided by an internal motto: family, community, firm.

Their team came to us at a time of growth. Sensiba San Fillipo was becoming a national player. They were known as an innovative, progressive firm. But their brand identity lagged behind their culture. We partnered with them to align their brand and culture, building an updated identity that reflects their human-first approach.

We got to know the organization through partner meetings, client interviews, focus groups, workshops, and an all-staff survey. We heard about their history and their work — from tax accounting and audit to software and climate-neutral consulting. In every conversation, we heard about a culture that values wellbeing, work-life balance, and community involvement. And as our brand strategy took shape, a new challenge came into focus.

We heard from staff and clients that Sensiba San Filippo was difficult to pronounce and remember. In everyday speech, nearly everyone shortened the name to Sensiba or SSF. Emails were lost when senders mistyped the domain name. Searches for SSF brought up the city of South San Francisco, imported auto parts, election law, and more. Further keyword research showed that, while search competition for SSF was fierce, the firm already dominated results pages for Sensiba. We recommended a simplification from Sensiba San Filippo to Sensiba. The shorter name would signal confidence, growth, and wider expertise. And it would align the brand identity with the way it was used in the real world. With Managing Partner John Sensiba as a cultural standard-bearer, the team could rally around the choice. 

In the brand identity, we set out to create a holistic image of the firm, bridging the gap between who they are and what they do — between their brand and their culture. We built a flexible, cohesive brand system that is ready to be adapted by teams working in different industries. A three-paneled logo stands with and differentiates from the big four accounting firms, its planes representing family, community, and firm as inextricable parts of one structure. The verbal identity is a toolkit — a set of refined, flexible messages that highlight the brand’s focus on people. 

A new brand and new name are major changes. We laid the foundation for a smooth transition by helping Sensiba tell their story — where they’ve been, where they’re going, and why it matters. We developed a launch video to introduce the identity and connect it to the firm’s values. Separate newsletters tailor the message to internal and external stakeholders, and social posts act as markers of change for a new era.