Mergers are prevalent today for different reasons. Share expenses. Resource pooling. And increased market share. But mergers are costly, and it’s imperative to get it right in order for the new brand to succeed.
The overall challenge is that mergers require a new culture to be created as an entirely new brand will emerge. Companies need to take time in determining this new culture. The new culture also needs to be conveyed to stakeholders.
In other words: Merging two brands into one is a complex task. To make things just a little bit simpler, we decided to develop a step-by-step guide and checklist on how to ensure a successful merger.
10 Steps to Ensure a Successful Merger
1. Consider the Reason for The Merger
Firstly, you must reconsider the purpose of the brands and the reason for the merger. It is important to consider everybody with a stake in the organisation. The social aspect of a business mission is not a superficial aspect of branding. Within this profound sense of purpose is the concept of balance.
There are very few businesses that do not make a social contribution in the community. Remove energy or banking, the utilities or transport businesses and it will have an effect on everyone’s lives. Increasingly, shareholders understand that managing merely to secure financial results can impact the bottom line. Thus the purpose and the community is important.
2. Create a Workforce Committed To Your Purpose
The employees are often worried about what will happen once a merger is created. It is important to share the purpose of the merger with them. Articulating your purpose will give you at least two things. First, you communicate a consumer benefit (and win a bit more trust). Second, you will increase the odds of employees working together for a shared goal.
Creating a co-operative culture where employees work together on a shared goal will not happen by accident. Co-operative learning involves a planned approach, employee involvement, the sharing of best practice and standard policies and processes.
3. Define “How We Do Things Around Here”
Employees require a clear framework of how to behave. This framework entails values, processes and rules. The fact is there are many ways of defining how you do things in your business. Most companies create values by which employees are held accountable and others have set rules and regulations. A combination of the two is usually advisable and will have to be created when two companies merge.
4. Earn Trust To Manage The Reputation
The model of business achievement has changed. Past financial progress only provides one dimension of value. Other factors which can add to the cost of business include a clear strategy, an active board, consumer loyalty, employee skills, new revenue streams, competitive differentiation, reputation, and innovation. If you successfully manage values and value, you earn trust.
5. Develop a Clear Strategy For CSR
CSR (or Corporate Social Responsibility) is already part of today’s society. It is a combination of corporate governance and corporate reputation. CSR is what a company does to benefit society and uplift communities.
CSR activities are important as it shows that a company cares about others and not only the bottom line. After a merger, the brands need to show a united front in CSR initiatives.
6. Create a Brand With Personality
A merger forces two brands to become one. It is necessary to determine what this new brand is and what its characteristics are. This new brand can be a combination of the best parts of the two constituent brands.
Convey this new brand to all stakeholders. Communicate with employees about how this brand affects them and show society that the brand is stronger as one.
7. Listen and Involve People In Strange New Ways
The first step to win trust is to look at how stakeholders see you. If a company does not have its finger on the pulse of stakeholder opinion, it does not have a feel for its corporate health. The health of the new brand will be affected by the strength of the two constituent brands.
It is important to understand how others see you and what you can do to improve the new brand’s image.
8. Manage Risk Including Risks Relating To Trust
There are many risks in mergers, like financial risk, public opinion, employee risk, etc. Manage risk efficiently, and you can head off chunky economic dangers like more regulation and legislation, windfall taxes or consumer boycotts.
It is important to consider what the biggest risks are when merging brands. Act proactively to eliminate or reduce these risks. Continue to manage risk even after a successful merger.
9. Leverage Social Change
Businesses still tend to think proper corporate responsibility is about managing the footprint of their impact on society. However, real progress will exist when brands use themselves to leverage social change and connect it to their business.
It is a delicate balancing act, but it can come out in a way which wins trust and leads to genuine social and business benefit.
10. Use Communication To Create A Dialogue
The biggest problems with mergers is that communication happens between a few key individuals. Most of the other people in companies are not considered to have a vital contribution.
It is important to discuss potential mergers with employees early on. By involving employees it is possible to determine what people are worried about, such as job security. Discuss what will happen during the merger and the processes once the merger is completed. Constantly keep employees and other stakeholders in the loop.
So what are these ten steps? They do not add up to PR, corporate responsibility, or merging. So what are we talking about here? Is it a new concept? Could we call it sustainable branding or trust marketing? No, it’s really just business common sense in the 21st century.
Moreover, it is not hair-brained wishful thinking. Many of these settings are taking place today in businesses of many sizes. Also, let’s not imagine this is only relevant for companies. It is as suitable for governments and not for profit institutions.
In a way, it’s a fairly simple choice. We can create sustainable businesses which are authentic, aim for balanced results, behave responsibly and win trust because they deserve it. Or we can we can step boldly down a cul-de-sac of increased consumer cynicism. Which side of business history do you want to be on?