You Bought It, Now Brand It: Consistent Branding Strategies When Acquiring a Product

June 11, 2020 | Blog

A real estate developer purchases an existing community with lagging sales.

A legal firm acquires a handful of its competitors and instantly scales up its service offering.

A medical device company fills a void in its product portfolio through new product acquisition.

These are typical and real-world scenarios drawn from our own clients and they are the kinds of new acquisition branding challenges we solve each day at Able&Co.

According to McKinsey & Co., companies advance myriad strategies for creating value with acquisitions — but only a handful are likely to do so. When an acquisition’s strategy falls into one of six common archetypes — from improving a target company’s performance to accelerating market access among others — the merger is more likely to succeed.

At Able&Co., our #1 goal with acquisition branding is to create instant alignment.

Not long ago, our client Teleflex, a global medical device company, acquired the EZ-IO® Intraosseous Vascular Access System and housed it under their ARROW® brand of vascular access devices. Almost immediately, our team was charged with a brand relaunch of EZ-IO® under its new umbrella. Hugh Firebaugh, Able&Co.’s Director of Innovation and Strategy, says: “The real challenge we face is in taking an existing entity or brand and merging it seamlessly with its new parent brand. It needs to work within the parent brand structure without losing what makes the acquired product unique and special.”

Firebaugh continues: “When a company needs to onboard a new product, service or line of business, there is often an urgent need to create visual, messaging and organizational alignment. And that’s exactly where the Able&Co. team excels.” He adds: “We look for places where there is already alignment and highlight those. Then, we look for misalignment and directly address those areas.”

According to a Deloitte analysis of branding after mergers and acquisitions, brand decisions post-merger are often rushed or based on political and emotional factors. A poorly planned or executed rebranding campaign can result in a “Frankenstein” brand that dilutes the power of legacy brands. Meanwhile, an overly long branding process can result in missed sales and marketing opportunities.

Jenny Taylor, Able&Co. President and Chief Growth Officer can relate. She says: “CMOs or other stakeholders directly involved in a new product acquisition don’t have too much time to wait. They need to create immediate traction and drive results without confusing long-time customers or risking brand equity. A great plan addresses both short-term and long-term requirements and ensures careful management of resources so the alignment of the brand strategy is carried through in a consistent manner over time.”

Our process

Branding a newly acquired product or real estate community is not rocket science. But there is a science to it.

Step 1: Intake

We start with thorough, deep dive discovery. This consists of interviewing stakeholders, buyers, sellers and key decision makers. We want to get to know the new culture and product/brand.

Step 2: Analysis

We perform a winnowing process to determine what elements to keep, what to jettison and what to transform in order to achieve alignment. Does one brand speak in a conversational tone and the other in a more clinical tone? How do you create alignment between a product that’s warm and fuzzy with a parent brand that is cool and edgy? Sometimes the biggest opportunities for innovation come from where there is misalignment.

Step 3: Transformation

We rename services. We change fonts and colors. We rework a company’s mission, vision and values. Whether we’re changing it in favor of the parent company’s current branding or the one they just purchased or both, we strive to do what’s best for the end result. We look at how the two companies sell and see where we can create convergence. Simply put, we affect immediate change.

Once again, here’s Jenny Taylor: “If you acquire a brand that already has a built-in audience and loyal fan base, you can build off that equity. At Able&Co., we typically ask ourselves, ‘what works?’ ‘Where are there consistencies?’ ‘What are some inconsistencies?’ And most importantly, ‘How can we deliver immediate value?’”

We have to note, however, that the third step is not the final step. While all three are happening, we begin working on a long-term plan for an acquired brand so that it achieves future growth and integrates seamlessly into the brand structure.

Have you recently acquired a new product or service?

Put our team to work for you and let us show you how we can help you create visual and brand alignment, think through strategy, creative and implementation, and get immediate traction – all while steadily driving toward long-term growth.

We have extensive experience in guiding brands through this often complex situation. We can help make branding and marketing one less thing you need to worry about.

Ready when you are.