Strategic branding is crucial to a successful merger or acquisition. We’ve outlined the major steps for you to take to make sure you don’t miss a beat.
If your company has recently gone through a merger or acquisition, now is the perfect time to create strong branding that’s built on the greater benefits of your combined businesses. But your brand integration must be logical, seamless, and clearly and effectively communicated to your audience so they continue to trust and choose you.
As soon as the dotted line is signed, it's critical to spring into action quickly!
Step 1: Brand Architecture
The first step is taking a look at the big picture. This includes defining how your brands fit together and relate to each other, and if they need to evolve to tell the most compelling story about your company. Your brand architecture is your road map to follow after the merger or acquisition, with your first stops being Brand Hierarchy, Brand Equity, and Brand Strategy.
A well-built architecture, or organizational structure, will help bring clarity to the products and services you offer, while amplifying the collective value of your brands to your audiences. This will reap dividends from existing customers as well as new customers post-merger or acquisition because they’ll easily understand how each brand can help them in their own line of work.
To figure out your brand hierarchy, or the levels of your brand architecture, you’ll want to think about the current brands and how they’re combined. Are both brands on the same level (common in the case of a merger)? Or is one now a subsidiary of the parent brand (typical with acquisitions)? If you don’t already have these established in the legal terms of the merger or acquisition, nailing down the structure and any potential levels of hierarchy is critical to informing your Brand Strategy, and creating internal and external clarity for the rest of your branding work.
Assessing brand equity, or the perceived value and recognition level of each brand, is also an important part of determining how to move forward. Gather qualitative and quantitative research from each brand’s identified target audiences to help inform your understanding of their equity. For example, you could ask questions like: Do the brands command recognition and respect? Is one more recognized than the other? If a name or brand went away tomorrow, would it be missed?
The strength of your brands should greatly influence your branding approach. For example, if your combined audience is unfamiliar with one of your brands, then it’s logical to absorb it into the more well-recognized one. Or, on the other hand, if you already have a strong brand with exceptional brand equity, you’ll want to make it the lead brand moving forward.
Thanks to the discoveries you made about your audiences as you defined Brand Architecture and Brand Equity, you’ll have a clear understanding of your brands, helping you put together an action plan, or Branding Strategy, for how to evolve them (which we’ll cover more in the following section).
But the most important thing you can do at this point is to support your company’s overall business goals and outline the steps you need to take to shift your brands in ways that grow your business and make the strongest impact on your audiences. Then, it’s time for brand evolution.
Step 2: Brand Evolution
The next step is evolving your brand communications to ensure all the pieces accurately represent your combined company, are relevant for your audiences, and are aligned with your Brand Architecture. We’ve found that for companies post-merger or acquisition, the three areas that have the greatest impact on brand evolution are Messaging, Visual Brand, and Website.
After a merger or acquisition is the perfect time to reassess your Messaging. You’ll want to ensure you’re still communicating clearly and accurately about your brands and the products/services they offer. But things can shift, like one or both companies changing their capabilities or offerings, and, if that’s the case, you’ll need to update Messaging to reflect this. You should also use the merger or acquisition as an opportunity to revisit your company’s core Messaging and bolster it to promote the benefits gained from the combination. Take the time to establish talking points for how you will communicate these new advantages so that you can increase and retain customer loyalty.
The evolution of your logo and overall visual brand will be based on your unique M&A circumstances. But we recommend taking this opportunity to modernize and strengthen all your visuals.
Typically, your logos will now feel out of date because they’re weighed down by the baggage of the organizations they used to represent pre-merger or acquisition. You’ll likely find that the brands’ visual styles—the look and feel around your logos—aren’t creating a harmonious look. And the visual representations of products, processes, and services are suddenly in conflict from brand to brand. We’ve found that the energy and momentum of a merger or acquistiion is the catalyst that enables strong companies to reimagine their Visual Brand in a way that feels natural, evolutionary, and receives quick buy-in from internal stakeholders.
It’s very likely that both brands already have separate websites. In that case, much like the logo and overall visual brand changes, the level of website updates will vary based on the brand architecture and strategy that’s decided. No matter if your websites remain separate or if one is integrated into the other, adjustments should be made to reflect messaging and branding updates.
A merger or acquisition poses an exciting opportunity to leverage your brands and show your audiences your combined benefits, giving them more reasons to choose you. With the right branding partner, you can achieve your business goals and maintain positive momentum during this important transition.
To learn more about how Moncur can help support your company with branding after a merger or acquisition, contact us today.
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