Navigating brand mergers successfully

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Brand Mergers | Branding During Mergers and Acquisitions
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A common reason companies approach us for branding help is the acquisition of another business or businesses. Over the years we’ve helped a number of companies manage this transition, so we thought we’d share a few key insights on how best to approach it.

Establishing a Unified Identity (or not!)

The first thing to consider is do we want to create a single unified brand? Undoubtedly this makes it easier to manage and market going forward but it’s important to consider the businesses strategic goals as well. Will we likely sell this new company in the future? If it becomes part of a single brand this can be harder and certainly a lot messier. Does this brand have significant brand equity that we risk losing by rebranding? The question of monolithic vs a house of brands is an important one to work through at this early phase. As most of our clients are already in place where they’ve decided upon a full brand merger, we will focus on what that looks like and what should be considered.

One of the primary challenges in a merger or acquisition is unifying two distinct corporate cultures and identities. Two different visual identities, 2 sets of brand values, 2 visions, 2 very passionate teams etc etc. Managing the communication at this early stage is crucial. Concerns about losing a company culture and a valued legacy are very real and can lead to big problems if they aren’t taken into account. Setting up a steering group from both companies is a really good idea and making sure that they are involved in every step of the way from strategy through to launch. It’s also really important to establish clear leadership at this stage as well, the goal of any work like this is to build strength, stability and success and making sure everyone knows it’s in their best interests as well as the company is very important…’it’s happening and we want you to be part of it’.


The perfect opportunity to bring people together is in the workshop, before pen has been put to paper. An open forum where everyone can feel empowered to share their views. One of the most valuable exercises we’ve found in this situation is to get mixed teams to share their thoughts on what the risks and opportunities are for the merger. What this delivers is a great starting point for understanding the concerns people have, which usually centre around culture and client perception, but also a window on what the new group can offer, new contacts, new services and capabilities, new regions they can move into etc. Ultimately it’s a vital moment of discovery for us as an agency but it’s also an opportunity to build positivity around the merger.

Customer Trust and Loyalty

A key concern is always around what will our clients think? People build valuable relationships with clients and giving them the tools to communicate why the merger is happening and how it will benefit the client is essential. If people on the shop floor are left to fend for themselves in terms of communicating the transition they will and do say anything. It’s really important to carefully manage this messaging but in a way that feels authentic and useful to the people that actually have to deliver it.

Streamlining sharing

One of the biggest practical benefits (and challenges) of a brand merger is a unified framework for marketing and communication. One brand toolkit, one voice, one set of templates etc. Making this easy to use and access and most importantly available from day 1 is crucial. Making sure that all the IT systems are joined up with shared access to the tools required is a job that needs to be considered right from the outset because put simply if people can’t find the assets they need quickly and easily they simply won’t use them.

Opportunity to build on differentiation

There’s often a temptation to look at a situation like this and see it as one company absorbing another into their brand but the reality is that the end result will be a new company with new strengths and capabilities and so making sure that you don’t just carry on as business as usual is really important. Take the opportunity to build on your difference, evolve the group brand and celebrate the new chapter.

You’ll need a really good road map

It might sound obvious but a project like this takes a lot of planning and management. We’re well aware you already have a day job so we always make sure we do as much of the heavy lifting as possible but organising and getting buy in from multiple teams takes careful planning not to mention the IT challenges that come from blending systems. With internal and external brand launch dates thrown into the mix and all the associated production deadlines that need to be hit to make it possible it’s a crucial that total clarity is maintained throughout the process so regular scheduled meetings and clear agendas are essential.

A chance to celebrate

Sounds obvious but taking a moment to celebrate as a team and with your clients when the work is done is a great way of telling everyone what’s happening and why. Often these moments will happen without any fanfare at all which in our experience is when people will make their own minds up as to why it’s happened. Always control the story making sure people see it for the exciting, positive change that it is. And remember you won’t be throwing 5 balls at people you’ll be throwing one, your message, your vision.

These are just a few observations and obviously there is a lot more to consider but hopefully if you’re about to undertake this kind of project they might offer some useful advice. If you would like to talk in more detail about this kind of work and how we might be able to support you then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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