In order for two companies to come together and flourish following a merger or acquisition, a lot of leg work needs to be done. And there’s more at stake than many realise. That means a lot of logistics in terms of planning and execution, which is where brand development strategy and brand identity design come in. How the brands present themselves following such a significant change has the power to make or break.
Let’s look at how creative branding agencies can help ensure that brands come out of M&A on top.
Make sure you’re up to speed
The secret to a happy marriage between two brands is having a thorough, well-conceived game plan. And the secret to a strong game plan is being fully and correctly informed. That means that no stone should be left unturned. So, it’s crucial that those involved in the process have a complete overview of the situation.
Ensure you’re totally up to date with your own brand. Learn as much as possible about the other brand involved. And look at the situation with a focused eye – what exactly is happening and why? Consider what the industry and market look like and how this may have changed in recent years or be changing on an ongoing basis. All of this deep thinking and investigation will help crystallise the strategy for what’s to come, before you even begin thinking about the future.
Put the consumer first
In considering the market, you’ll be putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. And those are perhaps the most important shoes to be in at any point in business, as important during M&A as at any other time. You need to be thinking about how this move will bring value to your audience and why they should care. What’s going to keep your followers following you?
In bringing another brand into the picture, you’re adding a whole new audience. So the same for your customer-base applies to them. Discover what motivates them, what they look like, how they behave and why they’re interested in what the other brand has to offer. Then set about making sure you deliver that for them, keep them interested, build upon this foundation and capitalise.
Get everybody onboard
As the old adage goes – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In an M&A scenario, you’ve got to think about all the people it affects and all the people on your team who’ll be the ones implementing the changes. If you don’t have your full workforce on side, then you’re already off to a bad start. You’ll be sailing into a headwind and down the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Communication is key here. Make sure your team is as informed as possible. Be honest and transparent. Even if you worry that people may be resistive to the move, the consequences will only be worse if you don’t keep relevant people in the loop. In fact, you want to do your best to get the team fired up and excited about the fresh beginnings, rather than worried about the future. So tell them what they stand to gain, why this matters and demonstrate to them that they matter, to their leaders and the company. That way you’ll not only have a workforce, but a hoard of brand advocates.
Share the vision
So, you’re telling your story internally – the next logical step is the story you’re going to tell externally. Changes to your brand involve changes to your narrative. Will your purpose change or remain the same, and how will the introduction of another party through M&A affect this?
When you know what your message is, get that message out there. Hype it up, spread the word, get people talking. Control the conversation. And be responsive to the response you get from the public. Questions are a good thing, as they mean that people are engaging and interested in your brand. Answer them accordingly, with a good, thought-out response. The resulting dialogue could be shared with media – or consumers. Remember what we discussed earlier: the customer comes first.
Put your best foot forward
In sharing your vision, you’re going to need to visualise it for people. This involves a bit of decision making. First off, will the M&A mean a rename? If it does, then a rebrand of some form will need to follow. There are several options at your disposal here…
In an acquisition situation, you’ll probably choose to keep your brand, the stronger one, as the face of the company. The same may be true in a merger if your brand has more equity or vice versa. This may mean that a new logo isn’t necessary, but the discussion is still an important one to have regardless. If your brands are on an equal footing, you could choose to literally merge your name and logos. However this, more often than not, ends up with a poor, clunky result that could alienate your audience. Another option is to rebrand totally, with a fresh face to both companies acting as one, giving birth to a brand new (excuse the pun) brand.
Your decision here goes back to the story you’re telling and what will bring the most value to your consumers. So, don’t neglect this conversation and process. Though this point has been presented last, it is by no means the least important.
By thinking about your brand strategy and setting all your ducks in a row, you’re virtually guaranteed to have a successful M&A for all involved.
Henry Richards is the senior copywriter and content specialist at Uberbrand a brand design agency in Sydney. With fluid style and witty turns of phrase, he demonstrated an intuitive understanding of the power of language which helps him nail TOV in copywriting. Written words are his second love, after Jasmine from Aladdin.