If you haven’t already, please check out the earlier pieces in this series.
Throughout this series, we’ve discussed many of the challenging elements of executing an M&A rebrand. But today, we’re focusing on arguably the biggest one. No, it’s not navigating legal, reorganizing portfolios, or even choosing a new name—it’s bigger than that. The most significant challenge you’ll be up against during this process is change itself.
It’s human nature to fear change, disruption and uncertainty. Those emotions are hardwired in our primal brains, but they don’t have to be hardwired into your new brand. You cannot let fear-based emotion and reluctance to change drive your M&A rebrand process and take control of the new story you tell the world. If you do, your resulting brand will suffer. But fear will also weigh down your internal rebrand team and the overall integration process.
While M&A’s are serious business, building a new brand together should be exciting, collaborative, and fun. Fear of change can get in the way of these positive experiences, and crush creativity. In order to tap into the best ideas and the most seamless processes, you have to encourage your people—starting with leaders at the highest level—to be courageous and open-minded in the face of change.
Learn More: Guiding Principles for Creating a Human Brand
An M&A rebrand is a unique, uncommon opportunity to embrace the new, bold and different. After all, if your organizations are embarking on an M&A in the first place, it means there were some pretty important benefits and positive changes on the line. Don’t shy away from embracing, sharing and showcasing those elements in your new brand story.
Reimagine Your Purpose
During an M&A, your organization may expand its footprint, reach and portfolio. But it can also be a time to expand your brand’s purpose. Perhaps the M&A means your brand isn’t only offering more services and serving more markets, but making more of a positive difference, too. Think beyond the tactical and functional products and offerings, and focus on the potential human, emotional benefits of your new brand. What new experiences do you want to deliver to your consumers? What new impact do you want to make on the world? Try to remove unnecessary, preconceived restrictions about what your company does, what category you play in, or what audiences you serve. Instead, create a safe place for people to think outside the box. You can use the following questions to jumpstart your conversations and ideation process:
- How is this M&A enhancing or expanding our products, services and capabilities? Does this change the category we exist in? What new customer needs are we able to solve?
- What is the M&A’s impact on our use of technology, R&D, and other resources?
- Imagine who we can become tomorrow through this M&A. How is it different, better and bolder than who we were yesterday? What would the world now be missing if the M&A never happened?
These questions will help you think big when establishing the strategic elements (think purpose, commitments, values, etc.) that will serve as the North Star for your new brand. As the guidepost and foundation for your new brand identity and story, getting these elements right is essential. Remember, this is a rare opportunity to not only re-engage and inspire your current customers, but also attract new ones in more enticing, engaging ways. And on that note…
Clarify New Consumer Selling Points
Any M&A should have very clear, positive customer benefits that need to be communicated through the launch of a new brand story. And as with any change, the communication should be expressed consistently, constantly and loudly until it takes hold. Ask yourself and your team to think deeply about the potential benefits your new brand can offer consumers using these thought-starters:
- How are we elevating the way we serve our customers as a new brand?
- How does the M&A bring us closer to our consumers, geographically, functionally and emotionally?
- How will our brand experience change for customers? What about it will be better?
Don’t get stuck on messages about the “same great service” or “business as usual”. While these messages are palatable and can help ease fears of disruption, they miss out on an opportunity to highlight all the things that are improving. After all, why spend time talking about the same old service experience, when you could be telling customers about all the ways it’s gearing up to be even better?
Focus on “the why”, not “the what”
As we’ve covered, your M&A rebrand story has to be about more than just the functional “what” that your organization provides and offers. This is important not just for consumer understanding of your brand, but for employee embracing of it, too. Every single person at your organization will need to know, understand and care about your new brand purpose in order for it to succeed. Your story must resonate with employees on an emotional level, inspiring them to live the brand in their day-to-day, and encouraging them to embrace the newness and change without fear. Ask yourself and your team to consider the following questions:
- Eliminate the words “revenue” and “profit” from your vocabulary. Now, why are we doing this, really? What is human benefit from a customer perspective?
- How do we want our people to act, feel, and live our new, shared brand? What is the bigger purpose they should be striving for?
- How could our internal culture and employee experience change for the better?
Don’t talk your new, shared brand down before it even launches by focusing on all the things that will stay the same. This is a time to excite, invigorate, and look forward to the future, together. Your new brand story is the rallying cry that will unify your people, solidify your culture, and bring a sense of bigger purpose to what you do. Make it an inspiring one.
As we draw closer to the end of our series, we hope these ideas and conversations are sparking creativity and inspiring confidence, wherever you are in your M&A rebrand journey. But we’re not done yet. Look out for the next edition in our series, where we will dig into organizing your combined portfolio. And as always, don’t hesitate to reach out or engage with us on social, or contact us if you have more questions.