Holy Shift! How to Maintain Brand Integrity in a Merger or Acquisition

6 minute read

Upland Admin

When you hear your company is merging with or being acquired by another company, your first thought might be, “[Insert expletive here,] am I going to have a job in six weeks?!” That’s entirely natural. But if you’re a brand steward, marketer, or creative, your second thought is probably, “How will my current brand respond to this change?” Which is also entirely natural.

So, as the news settles in, let us show you how to tame those wild, brand-centric thoughts and how to keep your brand safe, focused, and cautiously pliable during your first months in a new brand family.

1. Ask If and How Your Brand Needs to Change

Is your brand being absorbed into a parent brand? Is it staying virtually the same? Is it disappearing entirely? These are questions you should be asking as a brand leader heading into the great semi-unknown.

The answers to these questions will determine what course your brand takes and how dynamic and evolutionary it should become. Maybe you hear the company you’re merging with wants to keep your brand intact, in which case, it’s important to conduct a gut check and understand how your brand fits within the new brand.

Has your audience base widened or shifted? Do you need to rethink your buyer personas? Does your marketing team have more budget to run advertising campaigns? Answers to these questions will alter how you think about and communicate your brand. Take this time to evaluate what’s important to your core brand identity, and be honest about what needs to change.

2. Overcommunicate with Colleagues, Customers, and Consumers

If there’s ever a time panic, fear, and the gnashing of teeth will take hold of your organization, that time is now. Make sure you communicate what you know (and are allowed to share) with your colleagues as the information becomes available.

But be honest when you can’t share updates, and be honest when the news isn’t good. Maintaining transparency with your team during significant organizational changes is paramount in supporting your brand’s integrity. If your colleagues stop believing in your brand, there will be a ripple effect on how your brand is communicated and represented across all channels. Make sure your team feels supported and secure in the overall health of your brand.

It’s also important to be open with your customers and consumers. Whether the changes to your brand will be sweeping or more subtle, let them know what’s going on. Your audience is a major stakeholder in the success of your brand, and they deserve to know when things change.

3. Share Brand Standards with New Teammates

Maybe your brand standards or your teammates are new; either way, education is crucial. If you’ve refreshed your brand guide (including brand voice, brand identity, and visual identity) make sure to share it with your team, so you have their support when it comes to bringing the changes to life.

If you’re gaining new teammates, set aside plenty of time to educate them on the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. Instilling a sense of ownership in them early on will ensure a smooth transition and their buy-in. Think of it as a new hire, but one that didn’t have a choice about representing your brand. Remember they may be compromising their own brand (and may have lost valuable team members) and will be sensitive about too much novelty all at once.

4. Understand Your New Parent Brand

Perhaps you’re on the other side of this equation and need to assimilate a new brand quickly. Immerse yourself in the brand guide, the communication strategy, and the performance data. Doing your homework early on will make you an asset. Share what you’ve learned with the rest of your team, and get them excited about the prospect of bringing a new brand to life.

Notice gaps in their brand strategy? Take careful notes, and share proposed solutions with your managers when the time is right. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel right off the bat, but carefully communicated suggestions prove you’re a team player and a valuable contributor. Early involvement also ensures your new brand receives immediate and careful attention. Take the time to make this brand the best it can be, because it’s your brand now, too.

Have open and honest conversations with your new brand’s former stewards to understand which (if any) parts of your old brand to incorporate into the new identity. And be open to that answer being, “very little.”

It can be tough to take on a new brand when it wasn’t your choice to say goodbye to the previous one. But as brand expert Elizabeth Ellis says, “Your brand and its audience deserve to be spoken about with respect.” Hold your new brand in high esteem, and share a constructive dialogue with the rest of your team to set a positive example.

5. Share Assets with New Teammates

Whether you’re merging with a new team or have been acquired, a crucial step in a smooth transition is sharing your digital brand assets with new colleagues. Switching internal servers, swapping email servers (and Google Drives), or losing longtime teammates—all of these changes can lead to misplaced assets along the way.

You might find you’re locked out of an old G-Drive folder, can’t access your internal server, or simply don’t know where a departed colleague saved an important asset; losses are brutal to the momentum of a new team and costly to recover from.

The best way to fight this problem? Make sure you’re compiling and sharing your digital assets early and often. An excellent way to do that is with a digital asset management (DAM) platform. DAMs are a safe, secure, and super easy way to share images, videos, logo files, brand guides, and more. Store them all in one place, secure them with a simple password, and share a single link with colleagues, new and old, to make sure everyone has the resources and information they need.

6. Approach These Changes as an Adventure for Your Brand

Brands were never meant to be static. They are living, breathing, dynamic things. Mergers and acquisitions can be unnerving, but they can also be a way to refresh and reinvent your brand—all while you get to flex your creative muscles. Be open to change, communicate excessively, and share the assets that give your brand life. You might be surprised what an opportunity it is to cultivate both your brand and your career.

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