Going through M&A activity? We all know change is hard. Many of your employees may identify with where they are today and need to be brought on the journey to understand what the change means for them. And your customers similarly need to know why your change is going to improve their outcome. Or why else would you subject them to it and risk losing their business? Thankfully, branding can help your employees and customers adjust to the change.

Navigating brand change during M&A activity

Far too often a brand strategy is overlooked in the M&A process, or brought to the table too late to have an impact in anything except final implementation. Whenever it happens, it is important to develop a communication plan that addresses both internal and external audiences. This plan should break down the individual audiences in detail and outline what they should know and when, including the appropriate verbal and visual brand implementation for each instance.

Verbal brand communication encompasses not just what the (new) name is but the vision and positioning (or the reason behind the brand change). Change of this scale can create a moment in time when all eyes are upon you, therefore providing a great opportunity to tell your brand story.

Often this workload is shouldered by a brand manager who is also juggling other full-time responsibilities. An agency or contract resource can help keep your plan on track and address new challenges as they surface, ensuring your brand change is successful.

You can’t expect to already have the answer for every potential situation where your brand may show up, but strong principles and a good Q&A document can help with decision making. Another approach is to build a brand council, or a team of ambassadors across functions within your company that can help with the rollout of the brand.

Finally, how do you know if the transition has been a success? If you already have brand tracking in place, you can evaluate and make incremental changes as needed to see where you are having impact. Without existing benchmarks however, you will need to determine what metrics are the focus of your new brand and the goals you are working to reach.

Don’t expect brand change to happen overnight. Though you may launch or reveal a change quickly, brand perceptions can be deeply embedded in customer’s minds and take years to evolve.