In the dynamic world of business, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are becoming increasingly common, presenting both challenges and opportunities for brands. One of the most significant challenges is the process of rebranding, which requires a delicate balance of preserving brand equity while embracing a new identity. As companies merge or are acquired, the task of integrating two distinct brand identities becomes paramount.
This article delves into the intricacies of managing creative operations during such transformative times, offering insights and strategies to ensure a seamless and successful rebranding process.
From understanding stakeholder sentiments to evaluating existing brand assets and optimizing marketing operations, we'll guide you through the essential steps to navigate the complex landscape of M&As. Let’s start with how to manage creative operations.
How to manage creative operations
This section offers a deep dive into the nuances of managing creative operations during M&As, providing brands with actionable insights to ensure a cohesive and impactful rebranding journey.
1. Develop a communication and engagement plan for stakeholders and employees
The success of the rebranding hinges on the buy-in from employees and stakeholders. So, it's crucial to help them understand the rationale behind the rebrand and keep them informed throughout the process, for which you need a communication and engagement plan. Here are a few tips to develop this plan:
- Address key concerns: A well-structured communication plan should preemptively answer vital questions:
1. What are the strategic reasons for the M&A?
2. How will the rebrand affect the brand promise conveyance by employees?
3. What changes can stakeholders expect in terms of services, benefits, and perks?
- Create feedback channels: Establish open channels for employees and stakeholders to voice concerns, ask questions, and provide feedback, fostering a two-way communication environment.
- Conduct stakeholder workshops: Organize workshops or town hall meetings to directly address concerns, share visions, and collaboratively discuss the future roadmap post-merger.
2. Tally existing brand assets
In the midst of a merger or acquisition, understanding the breadth and depth of existing brand assets is paramount. This process ensures that no valuable assets are overlooked or duplicated, which can lead to unnecessary expenses. Moreover, having a clear inventory of assets aids in the seamless integration of two brand identities, ensuring that the rebranding process is efficient and coherent. Here’s what this entails:
- Website and microsites inventory: Begin with a thorough audit of all websites and microsites associated with both companies. This includes landing pages, campaign-specific sites, and customer portals.
- Social media presence: Catalog all social media profiles, pages, and any associated content like videos, infographics, and posts. This will help in deciding which accounts to merge, retain, or repurpose.
- Digital marketing materials: Gather all online marketing materials such as email templates, digital brochures, e-newsletters, and online advertisements.
- Online tools and applications: Identify any branded online tools, apps, or platforms that customers or employees use. This can range from mobile apps to cloud-based tools.
- Digital signatures and branding elements: Don't forget often-overlooked elements like email signatures, digital letterheads, and online branding kits.
Tip: Artwork Flow’s digital asset management tool can help store your brand assets during an M&A and make it easy to find important files later on.
3. Evaluate and evolve your creative ops process
Regularly evaluating and evolving this process ensures that a brand remains agile, efficient, and competitive. As market dynamics, technological advancements, and consumer preferences shift, a brand's creative operations must adapt to stay relevant and effective. Moreover, a streamlined process can lead to faster project turnaround times, reduced costs, and a more cohesive brand image. Here’s how you can do this:
- Feedback collection: Start by gathering feedback from all stakeholders involved in the creative process, from designers and copywriters to project managers and clients. Their insights can highlight bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas of improvement.
- Analyze past projects: Review completed projects to identify what went well and where challenges arose. Look for patterns or recurring issues that can inform process adjustments.
- Stay updated with industry best practices: The creative industry is always evolving. Regularly research and attend workshops or seminars to understand the latest tools, technologies, and methodologies in creative operations.
- Implement technology and tools: Consider adopting or upgrading to a creative operations platform like Artwork Flow that can streamline workflows and enhance communication.
- Regularly review and adjust the process: Make it a habit to revisit the creative ops process periodically. What works today might not be as effective tomorrow. Regular reviews ensure that the process remains optimized for current needs.
How to build a rebranding strategy
Here are a few steps you should follow during a merger and acquisition to ensure a smooth rebranding and a strong foundation for a brand’s growth.
Reestablish your brand's audience and market
Understanding your target audience is the foundation of any branding strategy. During a merger or acquisition, the combined entity might cater to a broader or different demographic. It's essential to conduct market research to understand the preferences, needs, and behaviors of this new audience. For example, when Disney acquired Pixar, they had to consider not only their traditional family audience but also the young adult and tech-savvy demographic that Pixar brought in.
Redefine your company's vision, mission, and values
A merger or acquisition often signifies a shift in company direction. It's vital to redefine the company's vision, mission, and values to reflect the goals and ethos of the combined entity. For instance, when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, they had to integrate LinkedIn's mission of connecting professionals worldwide with Microsoft's vision of empowering every individual and organization on the planet.
Rename your company during a rebrand
A new name can symbolize a fresh start and a combined identity. When Bell Atlantic and GTE merged, they chose a new name, "Verizon," a combination of "veritas" (Latin for truth) and "horizon," indicating the vast possibilities ahead.
Rebuild your brand identity
This involves redesigning visual elements like logos, color schemes, and typography to reflect the new brand persona. An iconic example is the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Both companies, with their distinct logos, came together to create a unified logo that retained elements from both, symbolizing their combined strength.
Track brand sentiment
Understanding how your audience perceives the new brand is crucial. Use tools like social listening and surveys to gauge public sentiment. For example, after the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, tracking public sentiment was essential to understand how customers felt about the combined services and branding.
Plan a successful launch
Once all elements are in place, planning a grand launch to introduce the new brand to the world is the final step. Think of how AOL and Time Warner hosted a massive event, complete with press releases, interviews, and media coverage, to announce their merger and the future direction of the combined entity.
Mergers and acquisitions, while presenting a myriad of challenges, also open doors to unparalleled growth and opportunities for brands. The journey of rebranding during such transformative times is intricate, demanding a well-thought-out strategy and meticulous execution. As we've explored, from reestablishing your brand's audience to planning a triumphant launch, every step is pivotal in ensuring the combined entity's success in the market.
In this digital age, tools and platforms play a significant role in streamlining operations and ensuring brand consistency. Artwork Flow stands out as an indispensable asset for brands navigating the complex waters of M&As. With its comprehensive suite of features, it aids in managing, storing, and accessing brand assets, ensuring that the rebranding process is as seamless as possible.