In my professional experience, I have found that the role of branding during integration can run between two extremes. In any corporate branding initiative there is the distinct possibility that the brand strategy will fail. There are a myriad of factors for this; these may include, but are not limited to, a lack of commitment by executive leadership, internal politics, resource limitations, employee resistance, or even a misguided branding approach, to name just a few. These factors can and often do get in the way of a successful brand initiative, regardless of whether an acquisition has been made.
During M&A, however, the probability of these and other factors impacting brand integration are even greater. This is because the pressure to integrate two organizations in order to maximize shareholder value is significant. This creates even greater pressure on the branding team to get it right, and ultimately increases the likelihood that the brand integration will end up being viewed as either a lightning rod to vent organizational resistance associated with integration, or as a powerful bridge for strengthening business value and rallying employees and customers around a new value proposition. It is this author’s opinion that once a brand initiative becomes a lightning rod for management it can be quite difficult to succeed in executing a strong corporate brand strategy.
This short article explores how the management team can utilize brand integration as a way to build a bridge and avoid the lightning rod syndrome.