Step-by-Step Guide to Merging Two Brands Seamlessly

Disney and Pixar. ​​Kraft Foods and Heinz. Some of today’s biggest brands have come together - AKA merged - to create global powerhouses.

Ultimately, brand mergers provide great opportunities for companies to rethink and refresh their brand identities. However, merging two established brands, each with its unique brand elements, visual identity, values, brand equity, brand architecture and brand value, is anything but simple.

As you might expect, merging companies is both complex and time-consuming. It entails transitioning equity, reshaping perceptions and guiding customers through the migration process. It requires tact, strategy, robust branding and marketing resources, and a meticulously crafted migration plan.

So, where to begin?

In this article, we delve into the delicate art of seamlessly merging two distinct brands. We cover the steps and brand strategies needed to create a unified – and appealing – identity that connects with stakeholders and leads to success in the competitive market.


Brand Mergers: A Definition

A brand merger is essentially the integration of two existing brands into a cohesive single, stronger brand. They’re especially common in the healthcare, retail, technology and financial services industries.

This consolidation typically aims to leverage each brand’s strengths and resources to enhance its competitiveness in the market. The key objective? To align the brand identities to create a cohesive image for customers.

Ultimately, the aim of a brand merger is to maximise value for stakeholders by capitalising on the synergies and combined capabilities of the merging entities.


Step-by-Step Brand Merger Navigation

Step 1. Start by covering the basics and communicating about the merger.

Effective communication is crucial. It’s the bedrock of trust, comprehension and unity. When it comes to merging brands, your stakeholders, shareholders, customers and employees are your most valuable resources, so getting them on board is absolutely essential. It falls on your shoulders to ensure they grasp what lies ahead, what changes to anticipate, and how the merger will affect them.

A poorly handled merger can leave your employees feeling disconnected and bewildered. But since they’re your greatest asset, it’s vital that they remain your staunchest supporters. Employees from both brands are likely to feel anxious and uncertain amid change, particularly about their job security. Ambiguity only fuels speculation, so clarity is paramount.

Your employees and stakeholders need to grasp the vision driving the merger and understand how they can contribute to its success. What will things look like post-merger? What will things look like in the short term? How long is the process expected to take? Are you rebranding? Will you have a new company name? Armed with this knowledge, they can rally behind you and convey your strategy to clients and customers.

Even before the merger is finalised, it’s crucial to establish a transition team responsible for the change management and to:

  1. Develop and implement a visual identity for the new brand.
  2. Craft messages about the merger process.
  3. Distribute these messages to employees, customers, and the media.

Step 2. Update your messaging and engage in strategic planning.

Successfully merging brands requires one thing: a well-considered strategy. It’s crucial to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

First off, you need to understand what each company brings to the table. What do they offer? What makes them unique? What value do they provide?

Start by conducting interviews and diving into surveys to help you determine the value propositions that best resonate with your consumers and clients.

Once you have a handle on that, it’s time to sit down and make a plan. You’ll need to decide how to blend the two companies together and which brand elements to keep from each. This might involve deciding on a new brand name or an entirely new brand logo, figuring out where to spend money on advertising, and coming up with ways to keep customers happy during the transition and make the most of existing brand equity.

Here are some important considerations:

  • Regularly discussing merger messaging in staff meetings.
  • Highlighting key differentiators in marketing efforts and brand messages.
  • Deciding whether a firm rename and new logo are necessary.
  • Allocating marketing budgets and resources effectively.
  • Developing strategies for retaining clients.

It’s vital to consistently update your messaging throughout the process, whether you’re communicating new business goals, publicly announcing the merger, or building brand awareness.

Step 3. Align style and tone, and craft your visual identity.

When companies merge, the changes in how they look are often the most noticeable to customers. So, it’s crucial to think carefully about your visual elements – which will stay and which will go.

Your company’s voice, especially, is how your brand directly talks to customers. It’s what gives your brand its personality, so it’s essential that your voice reflects the core of who you are post merger.

Before merging, take a close look at both brands’ voices. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Maybe one brand has a stronger voice that you want to use for the new identity. Or perhaps you want to blend the best parts of both.

After the merger, your brand should represent who you are now as a newly merged business. Creating a visual identity isn’t just about designing a new name and logo. It’s about finding the right mix of both brands across all platforms, including digital, print and social media.

When crafting your visual identity, you have a few options:

  1. No change: You can choose not to change anything about either brand’s identity. This might work best for established companies with clear brand differences.
  2. Fusion: Merge elements from both brands to create a new, unified identity. This lets both brands shine while avoiding confusion.
  3. Strong horse: Focus on the stronger brand identity when creating the new one. This ensures clear communication but might upset some customers or employees who are loyal to the other brand.
  4. New brand: Launch an entirely new brand. This option is the most radical and is ideal when significant changes are occurring as a result of the merger, signalling a fresh beginning.

Step 4. Establish a quality-focused and scalable process, and reach out to the media.

Quality should be your top priority in all your brand management efforts. Establishing the right systems to consistently integrate and align the branding of merged brands is absolutely crucial.

To achieve this effectively, implement a content approval process that fits your new brand strategy. This not only ensures seamless enforcement of your strategy across different locations but also streamlines the creation of new content after the merger.

All successful brand mergers develop branding guidelines to reinforce the brand identity across all areas. Be sure to do this, and utilise technology to automate tasks like content approval and quality checks. This not only reduces errors but also saves significant time.

Engage with the media to shape the narrative about your merger and influence brand perceptions. Encourage high-profile employees to interview with trade publications, bloggers, and other media outlets regularly. Keep an eye on social media and LinkedIn discussions about the merger and respond to any misinformation, especially on blogs and social media platforms.

Here’s your opportunity to take control of the narrative and make sure that everything out there – yes, everything – truly reinforces your new identity.

Step 5. Address legacy content and start creating anew, while regularly reassessing your strategy.

Legacy content, what’s that? Think of it as any company content that’s been created in the past – but is still relevant and accessible. This can be older articles, thought leadership pieces, blog posts, videos, software applications or quite literally anything else.

Once you’ve merged brands, each company’s legacy content will need to be addressed. You’ll need to determine which to archive, update, repurpose, or lose altogether. Bear in mind that this content includes everything, from your branding materials to your technical documentation and beyond.

It’s a good idea to analyse how well your current and historical content aligns with your newly merged brand by taking a deep dive. A content governance platform can really help with this.

You should also analyse what new content is needed to support your newly combined business. Have you released blogs documenting the reason behind the merger? Have you interviewed the relevant stakeholders to generate press and public engagement?


Thinking About Merging?

Merging brands to become a new entity is far from straightforward. But it can breathe new life into your business.

Ultimately, it’s a great opportunity to consolidate your business culture, expand into new markets, boost your market share, fortify your brand positioning and maximise value for stakeholders.

Our expertise in brand strategy, communication and visual identity, we’ll help you unlock the full potential of your merger while preserving the essence of both brands.

Drop us a line to get the conversation started.

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