unified brand message after merger

How To Convey a Unified Brand Message After a Merger or Acquisition

Rebranding happens for many different reasons, but when a merger or an acquisition is happening, it is vital to make sure the whole event is successful long term.

When two companies merge or are acquired, a name change, a new logo, and new brand messaging are sometimes required. Rebranding is an important part of a merger because it's used to assimilate the brand into this newly formed organization – and keep loyal clients in the process.

Brand personalities can be incredibly different from company to company, even when they're in the same industry. When a company is bought out, it's important to create an all-encompassing cohesive brand.

When rebranding after a merger, there are a few key things to consider before you start moving forward.

In this post, we’ll dive into 5 things to consider when rebranding after a merger or acquisition.

1. Decide On A Company Name

You first need to consider when branding after a merger or acquisition is what to do about the company name.

If you’ve merged with another company, you’re left with a difficult decision to make: to rename or not rename.

Let's look at the three options you can take when deciding on a company name:

Option 1: Keep Both Names

Why should you keep both company names?

It can help keep customers’ trust. They've already established a relationship with the old companies – so keeping both as separate entities feels like a perfect solution to keep everyone happy.

Companies that merge sometimes keep each name but combine their capabilities to offer exceptional services.

Companies also keep both names to leverage the already powerful brand positioning that they have in their industry.

If you merge two extremely powerful companies, many owners tend to keep both names to maintain their strong individual positions.

Option 2: Choose One Name

Using one name over the other after a merger or acquisition is effective as long as the chosen name shows how powerful the combined companies are and does them both justice. The name needs to show that the newly merged company can still provide the exceptional services they did before.

Companies will usually choose one name if one company has greater awareness over the other or if they have more of a positive reputation.

When one of the merging companies has valuable assets or capabilities, but their reputation isn't very good, then they'll usually opt to abandon their name and take up the other.

Option 3: Create A New Name

When two companies both have great capabilities, a strong brand presence, and a good reputation, then a new name might be preferable.

The new name shows your audience the new, improved position you have in the market. It also helps prevent confusion if you’re working under a new united name.

Creating an entirely new name can be problematic and possibly difficult to roll out – but the benefits (when it’s done right) outweigh the pain at the start.

This first step alone is a huge task and shouldn't be half-assed. Your merger's future success won't be possible without completing this basic step correctly.

2. Create your Brand Messaging

As soon as you’ve gone through the renaming process, the next step is to create cohesive brand messaging for the newly merged company.

The best way to start this is to define:

  • Who your customers are
  • Where those customers are
  • Why they want to work with a company like you
  • What you can do to help them
  • How you operate now you’ve merged and how this new operation affects your customers
  • How to communicate as a unified entity

 3. Make Your Visual Identity Consistent

Your company name is one thing, but you’ll also have to make a few changes to your visual identity too.

This can include your:

  • Logo(s)
  • Company colors
  • Fonts & typography
  • Building signage, vehicle signage
  • Business cards, brochures, leaflets
  • Dockets, invoices
  • Website & social media profiles
  • Google My Business profiles
  • Staff uniforms

Every brand touchpoint will need updating to deliver a consistent experience for staff, partners, and customers.

4. Launch Your Brand To Your Team First

Launching your brand publicly is huge and exciting, but your brand needs to be launched to your team before you get to that.

70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions fail because of people. Key people in the business might leave, teams might not get along, or demotivation starts to set in with employees.

However, this can all be avoided if you carefully launch your rebranding to your team first to prepare them.

Educate your employees about your new brand, new brand messaging, and new brand values.

One of the best ways to make sure that your employees are in the loop with the merger or acquisition and the new rebrand is by setting up a meeting.

You can set one up in person at the office (post-Covid, obviously) or get on a video conference call to engage with every member of your team.

In this meeting, you should go over:

  • New customer research
  • New company name
  • New visual identity
  • New brand messaging
  • How they can start telling the new brand story
  • Ultimately, how staff will benefit from all this

A brand is more than just a nice logo and catchy taglines. It’s a promise you make to your customers and your staff. It’s who you are and what you stand for – so make sure everybody on your team, from your sales guys to your project managers, understands what it means to work in your company.

The more each employee understands and relates to what you stand for, the easier it’ll be to get your customers used to the new you too.

5. Publicly Launch Your New Brand

Now that you've put all the legwork in behind the scenes, it's time to launch your new rebrand to your customers publicly.

There are a number of places to announce your merger/acquisition, including:

  • Your website
  • Your social media profiles
  • Industry magazines/groups
  • Local newspapers/websites

In your updates/press releases, give an overview of what’s happened, and be sure to highlight how it will and will not affect your staff, customers, and partners (still the same great service, but with expanded offerings!)

With your team on board and backing you, they can answer any questions customers have in-person about the merger.

Mergers and acquisitions are complex, but with a solid brand strategy in place, you can avoid the most common pitfalls companies fall for.  

If you’re in the process of merging two companies, we can help. We’ve been helping companies like you do exactly this for over 30 years.

Our goal is to align your businesses by creating a strong foundation and strategy that supports your goals. When you work with us, you’ll know exactly what’s on-brand and what’s off-brand and what’s best for your company’s positioning going forward.

Sound good? Let’s chat!

Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond

Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.

She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.

You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.