• Transform magazine
  • March 03, 2024

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Navigating transformation: insights from a complex rebranding journey

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Misty Davis, chief marketing officer at Circana, offers insights on how to rebrand when two iconic companies merge.

In today’s market, mergers and acquisitions are a common way to grow and expand a business. However, it can be challenging to bring together two distinct entities with their own incredible legacies to create a new, cohesive brand. To successfully navigate this, there are many considerations to keep in mind to position the combined company for long-term growth. 

A successful merger actively seeks synergy, where the combined strengths of two companies create a more powerful and competitive entity and can open doors to new markets, customers and distribution channels, expanding a company’s reach and diversifying its revenue streams. It’s also a success when its respective cultures and employees come together as one, and everyone has the opportunity for continued growth and development. 

Mergers also pose a significant branding challenge if both legacy companies have cultivated decades of brand equity in their respective markets. The decision to retain either, both or neither brand is complex. Suppose your company decides to forgo the original brands. In that case, you need to be unwavering in establishing a single and unified identity and culture, breaking free from past constraints, and charting a fresh course for the future of the combined organisation. 

Making the right decision starts with data and research. Talk to various stakeholders, including your most important clients, industry experts who can provide an objective third-party view, and employees from both organisations. Insights from these groups will give you new perspectives on expectations, industry positioning considerations, market gaps and cultural nuances. And, when you include employees in the process, they are much more likely to buy into the final result.

Once the research is complete, it’s time to embark on the creative phase, exploring all potential brand elements, from names and logos to taglines and other ways to identify the brand visually. This part is a lot of work but also fun! Make sure to conduct linguistic studies to ensure the name can be used across markets and test your options with key trusted stakeholders. Taking a comprehensive approach now means that your new brand is more likely to resonate with clients, employees, and the global markets you serve, ensuring its enduring success in a dynamic business landscape. Most importantly, involve your legal team early – copyright is key!

Crafting a compelling brand narrative is a foundational step in the rebranding process after a merger. It’s essential to carefully integrate messaging, graphics and typography to convey your brand’s story effectively. Your brand narrative should serve as the cohesive thread that ties together your company’s past, present and future. It’s the story that defines who you are, what you stand for and where you’re headed as a newly merged entity. Be sure to implement a comprehensive communications and training plan so that all your employees can easily explain the brand narrative to customers.

Like with most things in life, consistency is key. Your brand should come to life consistently across all your materials and include not only the logo and your templates but also messaging, tone and company values. When your audience has a consistent experience, you foster trust and credibility – essential elements in any successful rebrand.

In the end, rebranding after a merger is not just about the process of visual transformation; it’s about truly forging a shared identity for your company that encapsulates your combined values, aspirations and the unique strengths of your newly merged entity. By following these principles and remaining committed to your new brand and its evolution, you can more easily navigate this journey, ensuring that your brand respects its past while positioning itself for a promising and prosperous future.