The Best Marriages Are Built on Commonalities: How Two Organizations Became One—and What You Can Learn From Their Example

May 28, 2015

By Melissa Fors

Melissa_Fors_2995_WEBSIZEIt’s a marriage made in heaven. In February 2014, two of the nation’s best-known substance abuse treatment organizations—Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center—said, “I do” to a merger. This agreement marked the culmination of more than 30 years of connectedness between the two organizations.

A Snapshot of the Two Organizations

Hazelden, founded in 1949, is credited with establishing the “Minnesota Model,” an abstinence-based Twelve Step model of addiction treatment. First Lady Betty Ford traveled to Hazelden in the early 1980s to gather input on this model for integration into her plans for the Betty Ford Center, a substance abuse treatment hospital she founded in 1982.

Hazelton001Now the merger of these two organizations has led to the birth of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which becomes the largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider in the country. With 16 sites in Minnesota, Oregon, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Colorado, and 1,600 employees across the nation, the organization offers the full continuum of treatment services and recovery management support for adults and youth.

The merger also created the challenge of finding a way to refocus the brands of these two organizations into a new identity that would be able to encompass the best of the old, and at the same time incorporate an array of new and improved strengths that the merger helped to create. Here we’ll explore the outcome of this rebranding challenge—and the process that achieved it.


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