Top Branding Considerations to Smooth M&A Challenges

The key is clear and consistent communication

Undergoing a merger or acquisition can be an exciting new venture for any organization. But in the rush of your company’s new opportunity, critical communications can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Because M&As are huge milestones for a company, the legal and financial logistics can take up so much focus that proper communication often falls by the wayside. From disorganization to low buy-in, teams often have a hard time handling the endless moving parts involved in M&As.

Below are a few key challenges that organizations face when executing a merger or acquisition. Read on to discover how your team can conquer these roadblocks and get your transition back on track.

Challenge No 1: bottlenecks

In a massive undertaking like a merger or acquisition, even the best-organized teams can struggle with bottleneck situations. When one part of the team holds up the process for everyone else, it can result in delays for subsequent steps that stack up over time, resulting in massive timeline problems.

Common areas where bottlenecks could occur include:

  • When a single decision by any one committee takes longer than expected
  • When IT issues prevent a team from beginning their work
  • When legal steps are unclear and move slowly
  • When budgetary restrictions aren’t well understood

Often, the best way to prevent bottlenecks is open and constant communication early in the process. This includes conversations about clear deadlines that are approved by all the team members involved, so that there isn’t any question about when certain deliverables will be completed.

If everyone has a complete understanding of what is expected of them, they can plan ahead to make sure their portion of the timeline runs smoothly. Being specific about deadlines and processes also helps to prevent endless mulling over a single decision. When everyone knows how their responsibilities affect the entire team, they’ll be more likely to keep things moving along.

Your team also needs to have an open conversation about bandwidth, so that every member is actually able to stick to the timeline. Giving too many responsibilities to a single person or department can overload them with work, slowing them down and throwing off the project timeline.

Challenge No. 2: roles and responsibilities

Over the course of your merger or acquisition, you’ll face questions about team responsibilities: Whose IT department is supporting the move? Who owns each part of the process? Who is handling employee communications?

If you don’t have an answer to questions like these, it could cause major difficulties down the road. Laying out roles and responsibilities early creates a much clearer picture of who will execute each step of the process. It also allows team members to feel ownership in their part of the work and avoid any confusion over who has final approval.

Here are just a few of the many responsibilities that should be clarified before starting any merger or acquisition process:

  • IT services
  • HR communications
  • Media communications
  • Client and prospect communications
  • Legal signoffs and approvals
  • Management of the entire process

In addition to identifying clear responsibilities, you should also think about practical considerations for the merger and acquisition process. Is there a specific war room that you’ll be able to use for the duration of the move? Who will oversee coordinating schedules for all the necessary meetings?

Nailing down the answers to these questions not only makes a merger or acquisition process smoother, but also helps build trust in the process and assuages any fears of a chaotic reorganization. When your team understands their responsibilities, they’ll be more aligned with the goals of your merger or acquisition and will feel more personal buy-in to the transition.

Challenge No. 3: process

Much like roles and responsibilities, processes can easily make or break a merger or acquisition, especially because there are so many moving parts to keep track of. Once again, talking about the process early and often will save your team countless headaches down the road.

Defining a process requires the transition team to decide upon a sequence of events and designate the chain of command for each step along the way. Once you’ve agreed upon a process, it’s crucial to communicate it with anyone who will be touching the merger or acquisition. A process is fruitless if no one follows through.

One important requirement for making sure a process runs smoothly is nailing down the communications you’ll be using. Your team should record important documents, deliverables and instructions somewhere that is easily accessible down the road, and make sure that everyone who needs access to such information has obtained it.

Another way to improve communication is by asking for feedback from internal teams involved in the transition. Using data-based feedback from surveys or anonymous questionnaires allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of your team’s frustrations, fears and stressors. Knowing this information, you can identify areas for improvement in your process, and address any concerns your teammates may have early on.

Challenge No. 4: brand consistency

Mergers and acquisitions don’t just have impacts for your company’s corporate structure—they also affect your brand and what it stands for. Putting very careful consideration into how your merger or acquisition will impact your brand is crucial to ensuring a strong identity.

Whose mission, vision and values (MVV) are going to be adopted in the transition? Or perhaps you need entirely new MVVs? If so, you’re going to need people assigned to editing those values and crafting a comprehensive brand that represents your company. This is no small task: It will affect how clients perceive your organization, and what you represent to future prospects.

It’s equally important to consider the visual changes that your new brand will be adhering to. From your company business cards to social media platforms to signs on the office door, your reorganization may require an overhaul of your branded materials.

A few more M&A insights

To learn more about the ways mergers and acquisitions can impact your brand, listen to our podcast on the top branding considerations for any M&A. If you have questions about how your brand can maintain a strong identity during a merger or acquisition, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Bo Bothe has over two decades of experience helping people identify and seize transformative opportunities. As co-founder, CEO and president of BrandExtract, Bothe has guided brand and corporate strategy for hundreds of clients, including some of the largest public and private companies in the world.