How to Manage Brand Design During A Merger or Acquisition
Mergers and acquisitions create a lot of questions on how to handle different brands and brand standards. In order to create continuity throughout your marketing strategy and corporate communications, it’s important to rebrand. Although the process will yield a plethora of considerations, the decisions you make will bring clarity and purpose to your combined organization.
To avoid getting waylaid by the personal dynamics involved when two organizations join forces, it’s best to start thinking about the brand design implications, from a high level, sooner than later. Here is a checklist of considerations to help you prioritize.
- Will there be a new naming convention, i.e. for products, for the company?
- Will the brand architecture be a Masterbrand or will there be unique brand identities for different products or markets?
- What is the brand transition plan that will mitigate confusion among employees and customers?
- What are some short term initiatives that will keep business moving while more strategic issues are being managed?
- What budget needs to be allocated for a smooth transition?
Breaking this down into key categories will be helpful.
Visual Brand Identity
The most obvious change for companies during a merger or acquisition is the visual brand identity. Through use of color, fonts, imagery and language, your visual brand can quickly show your newly combined entity to the world. The visual brand identity can be executed in phases, starting with a “splash page” on the website that announces the new entity and leads to a special “landing page,” which informs customers and prospects about the changes and opportunities to come. This is important to show while you are working out the longer-term brand strategy.
Naming is the most fundamental pillar of a brand. Do you maintain a Masterbrand strategy or does the acquisition or merger open up the need to maintain individual brands, either for the short-term or as a long-term strategy. These decisions are dependent on the relative brand equity of each brand and the future vision for the combined organization.
Begin by examining the Brand Positioning statements for both companies, which is how the brand differs from competitor brands and includes the audience value proposition.
Also important are the Brand Mission (what the brand does and what the organization stands for), and the Brand Essence (the core underlying idea behind the brand).
Last but not least is Brand Messaging, which is most visible to customers via the website, social media, collateral, etc. Is the core audience the same for the conjoined orgranizations? If not, the key messages being coommunicated may become confusing. To avoid causing confusion, you can make short-term changes in your messaging that suggest alignment and portends future intentions.
Short-Term Lead Generation
As discussed, rebranding is a thoughtful process that involves deep, strategic thinking and is most successful when not rushed. Yet the world goes round, so how do you not lose momentum?
- Create new messaging and design for your website homepage. Include links to a landing page that shares your excitiement about the added value you will offer based on the combined organization. Provide easy ways for your audience to engage with you online.
- Create offers (meaningful content, special deals, etc.) designed to encourage people to register their names via a form on your website.
- Optimize your website with new Search terms to generate new site traffic and guide them to important pages on your site.
- Reach out to existing customers with a custom announcement about the increaesed product or service offering the combined organizations now provide.
- Create a multi-touch email campaign connected to a landing page with a relevant set of offers.
- Use social media to engage with customers.
When you take this two-pronged approach of addressing the long and short-term needs resulting from an acquisition or merger, you protect your business while maintaining enough time to emerge as a larger, more powerful brand.