Creating a Legacy Brand After a Buyout
After a merger or acquisition of a business, the two companies will be forced to make decisions that require time, resources, and loads of critical thinking. Many topics need to be considered in order for the merger to be successful, including decisions for how to treat the brand. After the merger or acquisition, will the brands remain separate with only operational adjustments? Will there be a fusion where the two brands combine? Will the merger lean into the legacy of the stronger brand, or will it start over from scratch? These brand strategy choices can impact operational and structural decisions and will play a role in deciding how to best position the company, products, or services for future success.
Organizations experience various shifts and adjustments during their lifecycle, from new product or service releases to expansions and acquisitions. Maintaining a strong brand through these changes separates those who have clearly defined their brand’s ideal future from those who operate on autopilot. As with everything in business, it’s best to be proactive and plan for the future when it comes to branding.
Typically, business mergers occur with goals of expanding geographical reach, entering new market segments, or gaining market share. Whichever the case, you and your team must decide how you're going to position the new, merged, or expanded brand. There are a few key considerations to make regarding each brand’s equity when approaching this decision.
What emotional connections do customers and stakeholders have with these brands?
If you're merging with a family-owned business, there may be more sentimental values attached to the brand. In this case, you'll want to consider how to best preserve the legacy of the brand while still expanding its reach. This can be done by keeping key elements of the brand experience intact and innovating in other areas.
What do the brands currently stand for?
Rebranding after a merger or acquisition as a new entity can provide an opportunity to start fresh. This can be a brand new beginning for the organization – one that builds on the foundation of what your brand stands for and sets a new standard for the future. A rebrand can also help distance the company from any negative associations with the previous brand. Be cognizant that this direction could leave customers confused, so your messaging strategy must be strong and consistent, and must explain why this path is best for everyone including the company, its stakeholders, and of course, the customer.
How well are they recognized?
If both brands are strong and well recognized, the merger could keep both brands and just refresh their visual identities and messaging in an evolutionary way rather than changing them completely. This way, you can maintain brand equity separately while expanding service offerings and gaining operational efficiencies, which ultimately should improve the customer experience. Just be sure to focus your messaging on the new features and how they'll benefit the customer.
All of these factors will play into how you approach branding after a merger. No matter what you decide, it's important to have a brand strategy plan and not forget to include legacy elements to ensure brand equity is maintained. A brand is one of your organization’s most valuable assets, and it should be treated as such. With careful planning and execution, you can come out of a merger with a strong brand or brands that give homage to the legacy of the organization.
What are your thoughts? Are you considering a merger or acquisition in the future and are unsure of how to address the brand strategy? At Quill Creative Studio, we can help you decide the best direction forward to create lasting impact through times of change. Contact an experienced brand strategist today to start the conversation early so you're prepared for those important decisions.