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Acrimony to Matrimony: Branding merged companies

marriageFinding the right one is tough. You want a match with the qualities that complement yours. You want the two of you to equal more than the sum of your parts. When you find The One and everything is right, you merge, join the “families” together and everyone marches into the profitable sunset, hand-in-hand, singing kumbayah, right?

Well, not so much. Companies frequently like to say their mergers are a “marriage of equals.” Just like any marriage, joining two or more companies together into one brand spanking new entity is fraught with pitfalls and challenges. Employees are entrenched and not so willing to invite others in to share their silos of knowledge and expertise. They see all the faults in their counterparts from The Other Side. Jealousy and resentment rear their ugly heads. They scramble to stake their claim in the new organization at any cost. Unfortunately, if not handled properly, that cost may be to the brand.

So how can you minimize the malcontents and build brand ambassadors?

  • Communicate. When there is a vacuum of information, people will speculate to fill it. Be truthful about the future. Genuinely strategize a win-win so those who will be redundant will be positive about transitioning to their next chapter. Be clear that there may be restructuring and changes. No one likes to be blindsided.
  • Integrate. Involve team members from each of the former companies early in projects and planning. Set them up for success and recognize teamwork. Nip divisive attitudes in the bud. Patience and persistence will build a team.
  • Participate. Get teams involved in facilitation sessions to define how they can contribute to building the new brand from their position. Let them feel responsible for finding the strengths of the newly formed organization. If they are part of the solution they’ll be less inclined to be part of the problem.
  • Elevate. Keep HR well-staffed and busy resolving conflicts immediately. Don’t let factionalism fester and discontent spread. Create a non-threatening outlet to clear the air. Recognize efforts to build a team. Celebrate activities and ideas that strengthen the brand.
  • Clarify. Make sure all members of the team are clear about the brand story and their role in it. Give them training and tools to provide a consistent brand experience to customers. Help them see how to keep the brand vibrant.

The people behind your brand are your greatest asset. If you prepare and strategize how you will help them through the transition as you merge companies, they will become brand evangelists. Then, you can begin to all live happily ever after.

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