Acquisitions and mergers can be exciting. However, they can also be confusing for customers, employees, and other stakeholders, as the new organisation works out its unified identity and goals. One of the best ways to minimise this confusion is to consider a strategic rebrand.
When an organisation acquires another company or two businesses merge, the attributes that define both companies very often change. The new entity may need to alter how it talks about itself for a variety of reasons, such as to reflect a broadened suite of products and services.
Likewise, an organisation’s internal culture and shared beliefs can be thrown into doubt and confusion. These often need to be identified and re-articulated following an acquisition or merger, so that everyone can be on the same page.
Organisations need to manage and communicate their culture, values, and beliefs carefully. To ensure this is done effectively, the re-articulated brand identity needs to align with its messaging and offerings. This will maintain clarity for customers and staff, and maximise any opportunities the acquisition or merger brings.
There are four steps all businesses should take to develop an effective and compelling new brand following an acquisition or merger:
1. Develop a brand strategy
Organisational changes can mean new opportunities in the marketplace. To effectively leverage these new opportunities, companies must create a robust brand strategy.
This starts with understanding the current perception of the brand(s) in the marketplace and mapping the company’s market position along with that of its competitors. This lets the organisation understand its new role within the market, competitor relationships, and where there may be new opportunities.
2. Develop the written identity
To make sure that messaging is consistent, it’s important to develop a written identity that reflects the organisation’s new or changed capabilities. The written identity includes what a company says, how it says it, and who it says it to.
The written identity needs to include key messages, a messaging hierarchy, proof points, and the brand’s unique tone of voice. By communicating in a tone of voice that reflects the brand’s personality, companies can form a deeper emotional connection with their audiences and bring their brands to life.
3. Develop a visual identity
Although a rebranding project can be done without any visual or name changes, a new or refreshed visual identity can help communicate change. A visual identity clearly communicates to customers, stakeholders, and even competitors who your company is and what it stands for. It includes everything from the logo to the images and iconography used across every touch point.
Developing the right brand identity may include changing the company’s name to reflect its new strategy, or to make it more easily recognisable. Even the choice of font conveys a message.
4. Communicate the change
It’s critical to communicate any changes to employees and stakeholders. For a new brand to succeed, its employees must reflect the desired new brand. Gaining a thorough understanding of the aspiration and values of the organisation lets them ‘live the brand’ and properly convey key messaging to their customers.
A merger or acquisition can significantly change an organisation’s goals and culture so it’s important to manage the changes effectively. A rebrand, or brand refresh, can help provide context and structure for communicating organisational changes, and help engage staff by aligning aspirations and values across the organisation.
About the author:
Dan Ratner is the managing director of uberbrand a branding and consultancy agency based in Sydney.