Rebranding Strategies for Mergers and Acquisitions

Branding | 0 comments

Unifying two brands poses some significant challenges as well as a few unique opportunities. In some ways, it’s like two celebrities who form a couple — maybe a pop star who falls in love with a pro football player — who now have wider audiences to reach and new values to embrace.  But in other […]
rebranding strategies

Unifying two brands poses some significant challenges as well as a few unique opportunities. In some ways, it’s like two celebrities who form a couple — maybe a pop star who falls in love with a pro football player — who now have wider audiences to reach and new values to embrace. 

But in other ways, it’s very much NOT like two superstars falling head over heels. It’s a business agreement with lawyers involved and lots of major decisions made by committees who don’t often agree about what the new rebranding, if any, should look like. 

The reality feels more like a blended family, with each brand bringing its own set of values, personality, and reputation to the table. When two brands come together as “one,” both sides face a very real risk that their identities could clash and cause confusion for both customers and employees.

Rebranding — done correctly — can help minimize these uncertainties by providing a unified approach to how the brand is presented to the public. It’s a complex process that involves messaging, values, mission, persona, and image, as well as all the details that bring them all together.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved in rebranding when two brands are merged together, including how to navigate that tip-toe-through-eggshells process. 

Choosing the Right Rebranding Strategy

Before you even start thinking about redesigning your logo or writing a new tagline, you and your team will need to settle on a high-level strategy for your rebranding plans.

There are several different approaches that companies can take when merging two or more brands together. Here are the most common options to consider:

Combining Brand Identities

Sometimes companies decide that the best path to take is to merge the strengths of both brands to form a new one. It allows companies to leverage the goodwill of both brands while presenting a united front to the market. An example would be when Continental Airlines merged with United Airlines, combining the United name with the Continental logo design. It could also involve blending the two names together, such as JPMorgan Chase or NBC Universal. 

Creating a New Brand Identity

When both brands have significant differences or negative associations (perhaps because of a PR nightmare), it may be smart to start with a clean slate and develop a whole new brand that represents the strengths of both companies. This isn’t co-branding or an alliance; it’s the creation of something entirely original, which means (kind of) starting from scratch.

Retaining One Brand and Phasing Out the Other

If one brand has a much stronger presence or reputation than the other, many businesses choose to merge the resources of the “lesser” brand while keeping the more robust (and less risky) brand intact. A good example of this is when Verizon acquired Alltel, taking advantage of Alltel’s assets but keeping the Verizon name intact.

Retaining Both Brands But Clearly Defining Their Roles

This approach is ideal when both brands serve different markets or customer segments, and it’s beneficial to keep them separate. A great example is when Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market. Both brands continue to remain independent — with hardly noticeable adjustments to their brands — yet benefit from being on the same team.

Rebranding Steps

Rebranding after a merger or acquisition is like a strategic dance that requires a balance of respect for existing identities with the creation of a unified future — all without stepping on too many toes. Here are some tips for navigating this challenging process:

1. Understand the Landscape

Start by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each brand’s image, customer perception, and market position. This involves understanding how existing and potential customers perceive each brand before and after the merger. How much equity does each brand bring to the table? 

2. Make a Strategic Decision

Which rebranding strategy should you take? Should you retain one brand (dominant or blended), create a new brand entirely, or use an endorsement architecture (one brand leading with the other supporting)? If you’re creating a new name, consider factors like brand values, market relevance, and ease of pronunciation, distinctiveness, and searchability.

3. Build the New Brand

An important part of any brand is its identity. You’ll need to design a logo (and its variations and applications), a color palette, and typography, and create a visual language that reflects the merged entity’s values and aspirations — particularly with how future customers will relate to it.

An effective brand also tells a unique story. Create a compelling story that explains the merger’s rationale, highlights the brands’ combined strengths, and gets stakeholders, employees, and customers excited about the brand’s future.

4. Implement the Rebrand

Get buy-in from your staff before rolling it out to the public. Make sure every employee — from C-level executives and directors to administrative assistants, sales staff, and delivery drivers — understands the new brand and is ready to share the story consistently.

When you’re ready to roll out the rebrand externally, launch the new brand through a coordinated marketing campaign across all customer, partner, and vendor touchpoints. This can include packaging, websites, advertising, social media, and marketing collateral (such as stationery, hats, calendars, etc.).

5. Monitor and Adapt as Needed

Take the time to track how your brand is being perceived, both internally and externally. You can measure the effectiveness of your rebranding efforts through measurable metrics like brand awareness, customer sentiment, and market performance.

Be prepared to adjust your narrative and identity over time as the new entity grows and adapts to the marketplace.

AMPED: Rebranding Strategies for Success

Rebranding can be challenging regardless of the reasons behind it. Whether you’re merging with another brand or acquiring a smaller brand to expand your business, it’s extremely important to take the time and effort to formulate a rebranding strategy … which is where AMPED shines. 

Our team of branding, marketing, design, and content experts has extensive experience with rebranding on all levels. We help companies take the appropriate steps to assess their brand and create a comprehensive strategy for the entire rebrand process, including implementation and measurements for effectiveness.

Get connected today and let AMPED show you what a marketing powerhouse can really accomplish.