These are the 5 essentials for post-merger brand brilliance

Mergers and acquisitions, in whatever form they come, are almost always about value creation – and marketers have a major role to play in achieving this when it comes to B2B brands.

Based on the conversations I’ve been having with B2B CMOs over the past few months, here’s a checklist of five key things that will help you achieve this:

  1. Let the numbers do the selling
  2. Drive brand strategy with data
  3. Activate your internal audiences
  4. Naturalise your new marketing teams
  5. Make brands about process, not visuals

1. Let numbers do the selling

Let’s face it, even the word ‘brand’ can often lose a B2B boardroom. To get your post-M&A branding right, you need rock-solid numbers that support your plans and ideas.

If your aim is to consolidate brands, you need to pull the cost savings and efficiency lever by working out what you can make savings on. For example; multiple martech software licences, multiple PPC costs, hosting and management of multiple websites, and so on.

Whilst brand is ultimately about value creation, some hard-to-ignore cost savings go a long way to convincing the board to give you the budget you need.

And if you need a little extra oomph to persuade your CEO, Earnest has a free guide to building an unbeatable business case for a brand reboot.

2. Drive brand strategy with data

When two or more companies join together, the decision as to what to do with them – merge into one, create a house of brands, etc. – is too often left to a single senior stakeholder to determine.

Data needs to drive the actions you take, based on how strong the brands are and what value they actually contain. Internal resistance to brand changes (especially name changes) is often misplaced. Data gives you the evidence to make the right call.

What tools to use:

  • Google Analytics helps you see the strength of each brand’s digital real estate and engagement
  • Brandwatch helps you through social listening to see how much the brand is being talked about online, relative to the competition
  • SEMRush helps you see how a brand is being searched for, and that it’s known for

First-hand conversations with customers and industry experts are also worth every cent/minute. It gives you the reality of your brand from outside of it, helping you to persuade others of the need for change.

3. Activate your internal audiences

It’s a common brand-launch mistake to focus solely on external audiences. Marketing really has to communicate the new combined organisation, to the new combined organisation so your people have a shared understanding of your new positioning and what it all means moving forward.

I could go into lots more detail here about the how and the why of this point, but I’ve already done that for you here.

4. Naturalise your new marketing team

Unless you’ve somehow managed to acquire a business with no marketing function, you’ve just gained new team members and budgets. To get the most value out of this, you have to actively integrate them with your existing team and bring them on board with your agenda.

By making this extra effort, you gain a bigger and better team pulling together as one, instead of two teams with siloed budgets, conflicting priorities, and misaligned activities.

5. Make brand about process, not visuals

Successful branding post-M&A is all about the process. You need a defined process that leads everyone (esp. senior internal stakeholders) logically to an outcome that involves them at the right points and gets universal buy-in. There are a couple of good reference points.

The experts at Propolis developed a top-level staged process which is well worth checking out. And, of course, we at Earnest do this all the time, and you can read all about our process here.

Happy to help

Having worked on nearly twenty of these myself, I can confirm that these five tips will help make every stressful post-M&A brand change. And I’m also happy to grab half an hour with you any time to talk through any specific questions you have – just shout.

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(Header photo: Raimond Klavins on Unsplash)