5 critical steps to ensure your acquisition is brand-ready

Is your business making an acquisition? If so, you may need to “tuck in” or rebrand the acquired organization. Will you be prepared by the time the deal closes?

Being ready means having a plan

Planning for an acquisition is much like planning for a rebrand given the degree of organizational change and importance of bringing people along. In the case where the acquired business assumes your (the purchaser’s) brand identity, there is a significant amount of work to be done. 

As a part of changing the brand, you must determine what needs to be migrated, how long it will take, how much it will cost, who will do the work and what communications will surround the transformation. Most importantly, it’s time to think about how this change will impact people, both internal employees and external customers, to integrate cultures, reduce uncertainty, and safeguard loyalty. There is much to be accounted for before the deal officially closes! 

With acquisitions, speed to market is critical to deliver immediate value, and having a brand implementation plan in place makes it possible to move quickly and intentionally.

Implementation planning helps you take 5 critical steps toward ensuring strategic changes are made to the brand you’re acquiring.

Audit your brand needs

As the purchasing company, you’ve likely done extensive financial due diligence, but what about brand due diligence? As you plan to initiate changes to the acquired company’s brand, there are several opportunities to uncover. It’s important to understand the nuances of how and where the acquired company is using their brand, the breadth of their branded touchpoints, who their key stakeholders are internally, and what kind of engagement external customers are accustomed to. Auditing how the acquired brand is used will help you assess the scope of work required to complete a full transformation and, potentially, identify any gaps in your existing brand.

Identify and anticipate audience needs

As part of the planning process, you’ll want to deep dive into your audiences, both internal and external, to assess the difference in needs and expectations. While your organization might have a good idea of what’s needed externally, there is a chance of overlooking the needs of internal brand users or others affected by brand change. It’s important to consider what people are feeling from an emotional perspective as companies merge, leadership changes, and anxieties surface, to communicate clearly and restore confidence. While it’s critical to consider what brand change means to your employees on an emotional level, it’s equally important to consider and communicate functional impacts. Define and articulate what’s expected of employees, and give them the right tools to deliver on those expectations. The goal is to make brand change as seamless as possible, through proactive planning.

Nail down details

A solid brand implementation plan gathers business inputs and defines specifics when it comes to:

  • What needs to be done
  • Where to focus and when
  • How long it will take
  • Who will do the work
  • Who needs to be involved and when (approval / socialization)
  • How much it will cost

This plan becomes part of your acquisition playbook, ensuring brand transformation happens quickly and creates the greatest impact. In the case of an acquisition, there is often an announcement around what will happen with the acquired brand once the deal closes. The implementation plan helps connect the dots between closing and rollout, assisting with communications planning and helping to manage expectations. The goal is to eliminate surprises and keep things moving forward by proactively managing expectations.

Uncover resource efficiencies

Another key benefit of a brand implementation plan is identifying efficiencies – be it time, people, or money. For example, solving for hundreds of marketing collateral pieces with less than ten templates reduces in-house production time by removing the need to create items from scratch each time. Another example is outsourcing brand migration activities to extend your team’s bandwidth given your employees are still performing their day jobs during a time of brand change. And if it’s your strategy to continue to make acquisitions, these efficiencies can be applied to future brand transformations, creating greater efficiencies in the long run.

Define a roadmap for migration and governance

When it comes to strategically migrating your brand and ensuring it’s executed correctly at the time of change and beyond, an implementation plan provides a clear roadmap for success. As a part of the process, defining an acquisition brand migration strategy document and decision tree to provide consistent direction to brand users. This roadmap protects your brand investment, encouraging alignment, and eliminating questions around how the brand should be used. A custom roadmap will help to answer:

  • Have any timing, branding, or migration expectations been defined as part of the acquisition?
  • Will the acquired organization change its name/logo?
  • Will corporate assets (signs, stationery, website, etc.) need to migrate to the new brand?
  • Will products or sub-brands need to migrate to the new brand?
  • Will product materials (product web pages, sales decks, user manuals, etc.) need to migrate to the new brand?

What’s your plan?

Having a clear brand implementation roadmap leading up to an acquisition drives greater adoption, ensures stronger execution, and engenders brand loyalty. Proactive planning allows you to anticipate leadership concerns and provide reason and rationale for the required funding to ensure the project stays on pace. It also helps you to create comprehensive communications to bring people along the journey and protect the bottom line.

When making an acquisition, everyone needs to be moving in the same direction. This means helping people understand what’s happening, why, and what’s expected of them. Brand implementation planning makes that possible. 

Ready to talk more about brand implementation planning for acquisitions? Reach out at hello@tentengroup.com!

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