Rebranding After a Merger
In business today, companies are being built and sold faster than they’ve ever been before. Every day there are new startups, new products and new services. Every day there are competitors joining forces in the hopes of seizing an even larger share of the market.
When companies merge, cultures collide. One-time rivals are told to act like best friends. Sales departments feel disjointed because of differing approaches and leadership overlaps, and marketing managers struggle to fold existing products and services into a cohesive brand story. No one wants to move too quickly, but the clock is ticking. If you can’t figure out your brand internally, how can you expect your customers to?
It’s natural for a marketing manager – or anyone – to feel apprehensive about a brand in transition. The stakes are high, and it’s not easy to take two (or more) conflicting company cultures and make one unified brand. It’s even harder to build a brand that’s strong enough to gain preference in your customers’ eyes. But it isn’t impossible.
Give people a voice.
When rebranding due to an acquisition or merger, your challenge begins internally. To combat dissidence within the organization, your goal is to get everyone (enthusiastically) on the same page. The best way to do that is to identify key stakeholders within both organizations, tell them about the plans for rebranding, interview them and listen.
If you want internal buy-in for the eventual new brand, the best way is to get people involved early. You want them to feel like they’re part of the process, and that their voices matter. Because they do. And because that feeling of inclusion and goodwill will go a long way culturally and socially with team members from both companies. Key people from both sides need to see themselves in the final brand you present. Even if their opinions aren’t entirely reflected in the final outcome, they will at least know that you listened and considered their perspective.
A story goes a long, long way.
When companies rebrand because of an acquisition or merger they often change names, logos, sales materials, brochures, their website and just about everything else. But it’s important to remember that the visual components of the brand are just vehicles to carry something greater. Your brand story.
People need a rallying cry. And when you’re combining teams, you’re going to need a good one. Staff need to know what they’re fighting for. What’s the thing that’s going to make them excited to get out of bed every day?
Rebranding efforts should focus on core brand messaging, including positioning language and supporting points. You need deceptively simple pieces, like a compelling elevator pitch you can offer up when a customer asks, “What does this mean for me?”
To get your employees excited about these new pieces, make internal communications a priority. Try in-person events to launch the brand. Give employees clear milestones that explain what’s happened, what’s next, and when they’ll be expected to start using (and living) the new brand. Sometimes people need a scoreboard to know that the game has started. If you have remote teams all over the world, plan on deploying frequent, regular communications like email newsletters or messages from executives to build familiarity.
“Under new management.”
Your customers will need to be convinced that the merger is designed to make their lives better – not just to make the company more money. Communicating the vision of the merger with customers is important for not only for acquiring new business, but for keeping customers.
If there’s any one thing that will get customers to reconsider their use of a product of service, for better or for worse, it’s the term “new management.” That’s why it’s important that you take control of the message before your competition does.
Rebranding due to an acquisition can be a daunting, political process. But it can be done, and it can be done really well. When done correctly, it’s a golden opportunity to unify cultures, improve the customer relationship and strengthen a company’s position in the market.