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Top-Shelf Tip No. 196:

"If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand."

Rupert Murdoch

Five Steps To Merging Brands

If you've ever lived through an acquisition, you know that one of the hardest tasks is merging the two brands. The answer typically isn't just switching everything to the new brand overnight. It often requires a transition strategy and a process. There are often stakeholders who have emotional ties and perceptions associated with each brand, and this must be considered so that you don't lose value in your brand equity and in the end, lose customers.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these six tips for brand integration from the agency Siegel+Gale, which focuses on global brand strategy and design.

1. Establish a cross-functional team of three to five business, marketing and branding staff members who will oversee the migration of the brands for 12 months.

2. Identify the synergies between the two brands and the ways each brand creates real value for customers. Don't just put the two brands together into something new and start advertising.

3. Architect a migration plan that outlines exactly what role each brand will play over the next 12 to 24 months, and determine how each will deliver value for customers. What exactly will each brand bring to the equation? Which employees will represent which brand? (Careful planning, in particular, is an area that few companies invest in.) Include metrics to measure the effectiveness of the migration. A great example of this is when FedEx bought Kinkos, which then migrated to FedExOffice.

4. Develop a name, logo, endorsement strategy and story for the new entity . It's not just about a new name and logo. It's about creating the right communicative relationship between the two brands in digital and print communications and across all touchpoints. In other words, identify and communicate the value that the new combined organizations bring to the market together that wasn't in existence before. Make sure customers understand the role that each brand plays.

5. Manage the migration over time. Be prepared to make adjustments as the relationship between the two brands shifts. Again, let the process evolve based on the value each brand brings to your customers and prospects. There may be some cases where it makes more sense to keep two brands separate. The option to keep brands separate should be kept on the table and weighed carefully during the migration planning process.

Mergers are designed to bring greater strength to the marketplace; moving forward, make sure your brand represents your new, better organization.

Source: Siegel+Gale is a global brand strategy, design and experience firm. Using facts, intuition and creativity, they blend science with art, unlocking the power of simplicity to help organizations realize their full potential.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson