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Brand Identity and Market Communications in Mergers & Acquisitions

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When a change as big as a merger or acquisition comes along, it is easy to neglect branding and brand identity in leu of the copious operational and logistical concerns until it is too late. As a result, ~85% of mergers fail due to lack of brand communication and environment.1

According to a white paper on merger communications from Stackpole:

 “Nothing is more important to the success of a merger than brand, yet it’s the thing most overlooked by financial institution leadership.”2

Often those at the front of the M&A are conscious of this need for a cohesive brand identity but end up addressing it as a “deal with the effects” approach “instead of “prevent the complications.” If there is no brand platform up-front, then the integration process is often disorganized and mismanaged. This of course, is to the detriment of the M&A, as it results in confusion for clients and for employees; the very things that should be avoided at all costs.

However, this statistic is easily remedied by the proactivity of a marketing department that is dedicated to bringing the institutions together. This team should work to find a brand identity that will bring together the face of the new institution. It should be conscious of brand perceptions, the brand experience of both brands, and strive to combine the strengths and remedy the weaknesses of the institutions. They should work together to form an intimate understanding of the industry, history, culture, weaknesses, strengths, brand equity, cost, and markets of the participating entities to find the right mix of the two; one that will create a consistent message that is clearly communicated to, and cares for all involved parties.3

Too often, employees and clients alike are left with uncertainty about what the merged future will look like. Brand identity can help provide clarity, and visual proof of that new identity can help those affect envision the new brand. This is emphasized by CEO Dan Kiely of Voxpro: 

“Companies who keep the customer experience at the forefront during the entire process will not only [retain] current customers, but also set the organization up for future success.”4

Institutions have four broad rebranding options, with multiple options within each, about ten total. The broad categories define which company takes the lead are generally called, No Change/Stay the Same, Blend/Fusion, Back the Stronger Horse (Brand), or New Brand.

See break-down below.
M&A BRAND IDENTITY BREAKDOWN *

Due to the sheer number of M&A branding tracks, there needs to be a clear and strong choice about the brands direction, as well as a consciousness of the feelings of the employees and the clients that will be affected.

These decisions will inform the way that the institution moves forward and allow them to keep their clients in the loop, creating an identity recognizable on all fronts. This identity will be translated and marketed clearly and efficiently through that brand identity elements. These include the names, logos, tag-lines, and slogans informing advertisement and media channels, digital and touch displays in branch, promotional items, graphics, and all interior design elements.

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2015/01/27/83-mergers-fail-leverage-a-100-day-value-acceleration-plan-for-success-instead/?sh=32d708775b86; This statistic was listed at 83%, however since the writing of the article, the number has fluctuated between 70%-90%.; https://businesschief.eu/corporate-finance/why-do-90-mergers-and-acquisitions-fail.
  2. “Good Merger Communications Strategies Make or Break Banking Deals,”  The Financial Brand, August 1, 2018, 3.
  3. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/corporate-finance/deloitte-uk-integrating-brands-m&a.pdf.
  4. “Good Merger Communications,” 2.

* Table Data summarized from: http://blog.finchbrands.com/10-brand-architecture-strategies-after-ma.

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Written and Researched by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group. 

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