“Just bought a product line from another company. It’s going to be a great growth opportunity for us, as we expose our clients to another solution that they can use every day. However, the brand transition is going to be work – lot of heavy lifting – just has to get done. Figuring out the integration of all the brands is not something I’m expert at. Any suggestions?”

Thoughts of the Day: Merging in acquisitions can be a great time to look at your overall brand identity. Do an asset and liabilities assessment of the existing and incoming brands. Consider the long term plans of the company. Think through what is the story behind the acquisition and how that story helps to improve what customers receive in the future.

As you consider the best way to represent your new and old brands:

Make sure to keep your eye on 2 important objectives:

  • Connecting the former company’s customers to your company,
  • Making new products look familiar to your company’s existing customers.

You’ll need a plan based on asking lots of questions.

Do an assessment of the strength of both brands – yours and your acquisition’s.

  • How well identified are they?
  • Do customers buy because they recognize the name, the logo, the product’s contents?
  • What role does placement play in purchases, and how many additional places will you need to advertise in order to maintain visibility with your new customer base?

Be careful to set up marketing solutions to keep customers as you work your way through this acquisition.

Take a look at things you might need to adjust, marketing-wise.

Does the incoming brand have any reputation issues that you want to get rid of? Compare that to the standing of your current brand. Is one stronger than the other? Does one need to disappear? Or are they equally beloved by their current customer base?

Think long term as you develop your brand strategy. Is this the only acquisition or will there be more in the future? Set your ego aside as you consider whether the your brand is the strongest and most logical to survive over time, or is there value in switching to the acquired brand? Or, do you need a new, broader brand that can accommodate future acquisitions?

Decide what to keep for identity purposes and what you want to have disappear.

Want to keep both names? Will you do that with 2 logos, 2 brand names, and if so, do the colors of each brand coordinate or clash? Try a merged naming strategy – the names or parts of names of each brand, joined into one new brand name.

Want to keep only one name or brand? How will you educate the market about the change? How long will that education process will take and what will it cost? Customers searching for a specific brand may not look right away. What happens when they try to come back a year from now and the identity that they’re used to searching for has disappeared?

What about developing a strong overall naming strategy or logo that ties together multiple brands – present and future. Consider a pre-fix that can be attached to all individual products, or a picture that identifies all products that belong to your company.

Get a team together to work on this project.

It’s a big job that is crucial to the company’s future well-being. Charge the team with doing customer research on identity, loyalty, and brand experience. Ask the team to present examples of other companies that have gone through similar experiences. Get skilled professionals to work with you to present name and logo concepts. Include thoughts on tag lines as additional ways to tie together brands or reinforce specific product identity. Whatever you do, dedicate the time and effort necessary to go through an effective branding process, as this will become your future look and feel in the marketplace for years to come.

Looking for a good book?

Try, “Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World“, by Nick Westergaard.