Navigating Rebranding After Acquisition: The Do’s And Don’ts

Mergers and acquisitions. They’re everywhere. Consider Just Eat's acquisition of Grubhub, Uber's acquisition of Postmates, or Salesforce's purchase of tech innovator Slack.

These are just a few examples of companies reshaping the landscape through brand takeovers, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic.

But the truth is that many businesses stumble in their M&A brand strategies. One key area where they often falter is in rebranding.

Imagine pouring your heart and soul into building a brand only to see it acquired by another company. While this can evoke a range of emotions, it also presents an opportunity for a fresh start. It allows you to redefine your identity, polish your messaging, align with new objectives, capture new audiences and engage in new partnerships.

But let’s face it: it’s not without its challenges, uncertainties and risks.

In this article, we aim to demystify the rebranding process after an acquisition. Whether you’re an acquired company looking to create a new visual identity, a newly merged company seeking to boost your brand equity or a new company looking to kickstart a fresh branding initiative post-merger, we’ve got you covered.


Exploring Acquisitions as Catalysts for Change

Once a company has been acquired or has acquired another company, rebranding is often inevitable. In fact, according to a study conducted by Landor, up to ¾ of acquisitions lead to a change in branding.

And it makes sense – companies that have recently merged have everything to gain from blending their corporate identities into a single, seamless new entity.

Refreshing your branding after a merger facilitates brand consistency, which can boost brand awareness and recall. It can also increase brand growth by creating new products, entering new markets and appealing to a broader pool of customers.

Ultimately, a strong band promotes business profitability. But that being said, rebranding after an acquisition isn’t mandatory – it’s unique to each and every company and its brand situation.


Reasons To Update Your Branding After An Acquisition

There are­ several key re­asons why companies may opt to refresh their branding following an acquisition. These include:

1. Boost brand alignment. Whe­n one company acquires another, the­re may be misalignments in ide­ntity, values, or positioning. Ultimately, updated branding helps to harmonise these­ elements unde­r a unified identity that refle­cts the combined values and vision.

2. Eliminate­ confusion. In some cases, the acquired brand’s image may already be well established in its market segme­nt. Ultimately, maintaining two separate brands post-acquisition can confuse custome­rs, stakeholders, partners and employee­s. Rebranding eliminates this confusion by cre­ating a single, cohesive brand pre­sence.

3. Bolster marke­t positioning. An acquisition may be a strategic move to e­nter a new market se­gment or to strengthen the­ acquiring company’s position in an existing market. Updated branding allows the­ combined entity to position itself e­ffectively in the ne­w or existing market, signalling changes in offe­rings, target audience, or value­ proposition.

4. Merge company cultures. Companies ofte­n have their own unique ways of working—their own brand architecture, brand values, brand management systems, and corporate cultures. Crafting a new brand identity post-merger can unite e­mployees under one brand identity. Not only does this introduce a share­d identity that matches the goals and value­s of both groups, but it also builds a feeling of unity and togetherness.

5. Refresh your brand image­. New brand messaging can update how people se­e – and engage with – your brand. This can be­ helpful if you want to change outdated ide­as about your brand. It also lets you show innovation or reposition your brand in the marke­t.


Keeping Your Brand: Why Not Re­branding After Acquisitions Might Be Bette­r

1. Brand value­. Your original brand likely has built significant worth over time. Ultimately, changing the­ brand can risk losing or diluting that value, especially if custome­rs connect with your brand emotionally.

2. Customer loyalty. Pe­ople develop loyalty towards brands the­y trust. Altering your brand identity can confuse, alienate or e­ven put off existing customers, pote­ntially leading to lost business.

3. Consistent me­ssaging. Maintaining your original brand across mergers helps ke­ep messaging and positioning steady, which is ke­y for clarity and earning trust in the market.

4. Saving re­sources. You don’t need us to tell you that rebranding is a complex and re­source-heavy process. It involve­s redesigning logos, updating marketing mate­rials and potentially overhauling digital assets. Sticking with your brand can save­ significant time and money.

5. Market familiarity. Your original brand may alre­ady be well-known in the marke­t. Rebranding could mean starting over in building aware­ness and earning trust – which is incredibly time-consuming and costly.

6. Employee­ pride. Employees ofte­n feel a sense­ of pride and connection to the brand the­y work for. Changes to your branding and corporate culture can disrupt this attachment and ne­gatively impact morale.


Mastering M&A Rebranding: A Five-Step Guide

Step 1. Evaluate Current and Desired Brand Positioning

Before diving into a brand overhaul after a merger or acquisition, it’s crucial to assess both your current brand positioning and where you want to be. This step lays the groundwork for the entire process, ensuring a smooth transition aligned with strategic goals.

Current Brand Positioning Assessment

Before embarking on a brand update, it’s crucial to understand the current and desired brand positions of both the acquiring company and the target. This involves comparing their levels of awareness, reputation, values and personality.

Start by thoroughly analysing your existing brand identity, including visuals, messaging, social media engagement, value proposition and market position.

You want to have a full picture of your brand perception and positioning. Identify key brand attributes, strengths, weaknesses and any areas for improvement. Gather feedback from internal stakeholders, customers, and industry experts to understand how your brand is perceived. What do your shareholders value in your current branding, and what would they like to change?

Finally, conduct a thorough analysis of both internal and external factors that influence the perception and performance of both brands – and whatever you do, don’t overlook your competitors!

Desired Brand Positioning Definition

Now that you know where your brand stands, it’s time to figure out where you want it to go. This means creating a vision for your brand’s future that aligns with your goals and communicates the newly combined company’s values and ambitions.

Start by setting your brand’s overall mission and vision. What’s the main reason you exist? What sets you apart from your competitors? What’s your brand purpose? What’s your brand promise?

Next, get clear on who you’re trying to reach. Has your audience changed since the merger? Make sure you really understand their needs, desires and pain points so that you can tailor your brand to their specific needs.

Step 2. Define Your Objectives

Next, it’s vital that you clearly outline your rebranding goals and objectives, focusing on aligning with your audience and differentiating from competitors.

Develop a detailed roadmap to bridge the gap between current and desired positioning. Define how the brand refresh will support business goals, benefit customers, align with culture and values, and specify the extent of changes, whether it’s a name change, refreshed logo, updated marketing materials or messaging update.

What are your aims with the new branding? Will you operate under a new name? How will it advance your business goals and vision? In what ways will it serve your customers and stakeholders? How does it harmonise with your culture and values? Will it entail a new logo, a fresh company name, an updated marketing strategy, a visual identity overhaul, or a messaging update? It’s crucial to establish clear and attainable expectations and convey them to your team and audience.

Step 3. Hone Your Strategy and Approach

When merging or acquiring a company, updating your brand isn’t a one-size-fits-all task. It’s crucial to pick the approach that best suits your goals. Whether you blend elements from both brands, start afresh, or take a phased approach depends on what aligns with who you are and what resonates with your stakeholders.

There are various options, such as sub-branding, endorsed branding, co-branding, house of brands, and branded house. Each has its own costs, risks and benefits to consider. Choosing wisely can help you blend the strengths of both partners into a strong brand identity.

After deciding what should stay and what should go from both brand assets, it’s time to plan your brand transition program. This program should outline the steps, timeline, key milestones, responsibilities, and performance indicators to ensure a successful rebranding effort.

Step 4. Execute, Plan and Launch

Once you’ve chosen a strategy, it’s time to put your plan into action.

This involves creating – and testing – your new brand elements, including your name, logo, tagline, colour palette, fonts, images, tone, voice and more.

Consistency is the key to any successful brand launch, so it’s essential to ensure that your new brand image is aligned across all touchpoints, including your website, social media, Linkedin, marketing materials, packaging, signage and customer service.

You also need to plan and execute a launch campaign that introduces and explains your new brand identity to your internal and external audiences.

Not sure where to start? Here’s how to successfully execute your plan and launch.

1. Coordinate cross-functional teams. Establish clear communication channels among various departments involved in the rebranding process. Collaborate with marketing teams, communications, design, and key stakeholders to align efforts and streamline execution.

2. Roll-out strategy. Plan a phased roll-out strategy to unveil the new brand gradually and create anticipation among your target audience. Consider launching teaser campaigns, utilising social media platforms, and engaging with your audience to build excitement.

3. Internal brand buy-in. Engage and educate internal teams about the rebranding initiative to ensure a seamless transition. Conduct training sessions, provide resources, and foster a sense of ownership among employees to enhance brand advocacy.

4. Customer communication. Communicate the rebranding efforts with transparency and clarity to your customers. Craft a compelling narrative that explains the reason behind the rebrand, the benefits it brings, and how it aligns with the brand’s values. This is your chance to address any potential concerns or questions proactively.

5. Launch event. Organise a memorable launch event or, at the very least, issue a press release to introduce the new identity to the public and media. Make the unveiling a memorable experience that resonates with your audience and generates positive buzz around the brand update.

Step 5. Monitor and Assess Outcomes and Feedback

After updating your branding, your work doesn’t stop there. It’s crucial to continuously monitor and adapt, actively seeking feedback and opportunities to enhance your brand further.

Start by measuring and tracking the impact of your rebranding on key performance indicators. These may include customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention, acquisition, referrals, revenue, market share and profitability.

Collect and analyse feedback from various sources, including customers, employees, partners, and competitors. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your rebranding, as well as opportunities and threats for your new identity.

Adjust and improve your rebranding strategy and tactics as necessary based on the insights gained from monitoring, feedback and analysis. By staying vigilant and responsive, you can ensure that your brand continues to evolve and thrive in alignment with your goals and objectives.


Looking To Update Your Branding?

Making changes to your branding after an acquisition or merger can be incredibly challenging. But, that’s not to say it can’t be incredibly rewarding.

On one hand, it’s a chance to carve out a fresh identity, draw in new customers, and bolster your market share. On the other, you can risk potentially losing loyal customers, weakening your brand’s strength, and leaving the market scratching their heads.

But don’t worry— with the right approach, you can navigate this process smoothly.

At Studio Noel, we specialise in refining, creating, and enhancing brand identities. If you’re looking to rebrand, we can assist you in carving out a distinct position in the market.

Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.

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