How to Successfully Manage a Brand during Mergers or Acquisitions

 How to Successfully Manage a Brand during Mergers or Acquisitions

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If not managed in the right manner, transitions during a merger or acquisition can be quite turbulent for your company. While you may be focusing more on fiscal and legal challenges, never make the mistake of neglecting the larger variables that affect your brand as well as your communication strategy. Keep reading to know how you can successfully safeguard and manage your brand, clients and employees during a merger or acquisition.

Assessing the Value of Your Brand

When two companies combine, it is obvious for a friction to arise between brands. Even if the acquiring organisation will take the dominant position, the remains of the other brand will likely compete to influence the new company. Therefore, it is crucial to figure out which brand has the larger equity and which one should take the acquiescent position. However, components of both companies should be considered in the merged organisation. Regardless of the situation, it is wise to review attributes of both brands prior to developing a transition plan.

You can consider using tools like Net Promoter Score to assess brand value, or contacting a brand-ranking service like Forbes. These will help you get an unbiased analysis of how your brand would impact prospective customers and external audiences.

Another way for brand value evaluation is to survey industry experts and/or consumers, who are in a state to offer feedback on brand perceptions. This may offer insight into how brands are perceived in the marketplace.

Such approaches will offer the information you require for taking brand strategy-specific decisions. If you find that one brand has larger equity than the other brand, let the former’s features dominate in the new company.

Defining Your Brand Strategy

Now, when you have an idea of which brand has the bigger market value, you may require considering how these influential components will factor into the new company. Here are several scenarios to consider:

  • A combined approach: Joining of the two brands.
  • Absorption: One brand merges with the other, which becomes dominant.
  • An entirely new entity: Two brands combine to create a new company with a new name.

For any of the scenarios above, you may need to keep in mind the outcomes for brand assets like logo, architecture, core messages and colour palette. So take them into account when assessing your options.

Getting Your Brand House in Order

After you have selected the best approach for merging two or more brands into one, you may require incorporating the strategic decision into your marketing assets, so as to showcase the unique strengths of your new brand.

Consider the role of the following in your new company:

  • Core brand messages, including brand promise and brand pillars
  • Key marketing messages
  • Target personas
  • Sales collateral
  • Website
  • Print and digital campaigns
  • Pitch decks

Once you gave established the role of the assets above, specify the cost of updating each one of them. Define a timeline for presenting your new brand’s identity to avoid distributing inconsistent marketing assets. This will aid you in cutting down unanticipated costs that may arise during the process of merger.

Managing the Conversation

During company mergers, conflict may happen between external and internal audiences, including industry experts, consumers and employees. Anyone with a stake in the new organisation’s success will likely be interested to understand how the takeover or merger will affect them. To diminish their worry, you must manage the conversation and the developing views around the merger in a proactive manner.

Categorise your communication priorities into internal audience and external audiences. Both groups have their own unique sets of concerns. Taking their distinctive needs into consideration will let you develop impactful communications.

Internal audiences are primarily employees who may be worried about the success of their company after a merger or acquisition. Employees, who were employed by the organisation being acquired, may need reassurance that the new company will flourish. The acquiring company’s employees may be concerned about how the new employees or leadership will bring change to their positions or responsibilities.

External audiences consist of the customers, competitors, industry experts and the general public. Craft messages, apart from the regular press release. These will require addressing problems like updated customers’ contact information, possible price changes, and general policy change – together with giving assurance to everyone that the merger is a positive step for the whole industry.

To assure customers/clients that the merger or acquisition will not affect them negatively, prepare a launch plan, comprising a series of deliverable and messages to address their main pain points. These should outline the benefits attained through the merger to convince them that they can expect better offerings. Prepare your account managers and sales force by providing them with the necessary tools as they become the point of contact for customers.

Some key elements of customer messaging campaign:

  • Digital media and print media ads
  • Direct mail and email campaigns
  • Dedicated landing pages and website content
  • Corporate launch video
  • Social media posts

Managing Industry Discussions

Industry advisors will likely have their own outlook and analysis of your acquisition or merger, so jump into the discussion as soon as possible. The majority of industry experts will express their views about the benefits of the merger to the marketplace and they may also be critical of any perceived removal of competition because of the merger.

It’s crucial to predict possibly negative reviews and open a narrative in order to highlight real consumer benefits and solid advantages. Craft messages that showcase the synergy as well as the unity of the new company, by quoting particular instances where consumers stand to benefit.

 Retaining Top Employees

Employees of both companies are probably the most important audiences to be taken into account during an acquisition or a merger. Your company would need them as it navigates through a possibly unstable phase of adjustment. When an organisation undergoes an acquisition, the number of actively disengaged employees enhances by up to 23%, even when there is no substantial effect on their jobs. So that they remain engaged, you may require answering fundamental questions related to their employment status as well as their quality of life. If their day-to-day responsibilities and working conditions are expected to change, you should specify when and how in advance.

Develop a strategy of internal messaging to address these workforce questions:

  • Will my position be removed?
  • Who will my supervisor?
  • Who will be leading the new organisation?
  • Will the merger require me to relocate?
  • Will there be any impact on my benefits?
  • How will the company’s culture change?

Note that even when there is a strategy in place, it may take nearly 3 years to attain employee engagement of before-merger levels.

Not Waiting to Respond

Addressing the uncertainty as well as the challenges of an acquisition or merger in a proactive fashion can significantly lower possible disruptions, boost collaboration and harmony within the newly combined company, and eliminate the resulting rumours within your industry. Communication is important, and having a solid plan in place will help keep you a step ahead of the unavoidable rumours and misinformation.

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