How to ensure M&A benefits your brand

Patrick_Albano

The reason why we have an acquisition strategy is to make sure when we look at businesses we understand: do they fill a talent or strategic need versus a ‘building block’ need?

Every company is different and how you handle and manage it according to what the value is to the business is really important.

Firstly, ensure that everyone in the organisation at a senior level buys into the vision. Secondly, whatever time you allowed for the integration, give yourself twice as long to do it as you thought you would. Finally, technology is not like Lego it doesn’t just naturally fall into place by moving blocks around. Put a team around the tech that are willing to experiment with how you get it right.

Before we did the deal [where Majestic Wines bought Naked Wines] we did quite a lot of research. We found there was very little overlap, but some customers were happy buying from Naked for one reason and happy buying from Majestic for another. Majestic’s customers value certain things about it, which you change at your peril.

Q. What are the branding implications of mergers – particularly in creating a coherent and cohesive brand and communicating this to customers?

Pippa Dunn: In a merger, you need to decide on how best to work with your existing brands. Keeping Orange and T-Mobile in the market worked well for us and meant we had an offer for everyone. When you’re integrating two businesses, you have to make sure the customer experience is right first; you can’t leave your existing customer base behind.

Creating EE gave us permission to go beyond people’s expectations of Orange and T-Mobile and create a whole new brand based on network supremacy, speed and innovation. Once you have defined that brand and what you want it to stand for, you can be bigger and bolder in its advertising, taking a disruptive approach because there are no rules to break.

Q. How do you deal with consumer backlash from mergers when services are phased out, for example Orange Wednesdays?

Pippa Dunn: Once you’ve defined your new brand proposition you need to take a fresh approach and ensure all new offers and services align with your new vision. A perfect example of this is Orange Wednesdays. It was a very popular offer and a massive success at its peak but our brand changed and our customers’ viewing habits evolved so it was time to move on and introduce a more relevant offer.

Q. What is the best way to merge brands in terms of organisational structure and culture?

Pippa Dunn: It is key to communicate your vision as quickly as possible to ensure everyone feels involved – not just part of a business, but part of a bold, exciting new culture. We made sure we had the right structure in place to get closer to the front line, and ultimately our customers, to communicate this.

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