Mergers & Acquisitions (Part 4): 3 Steps to Brand Implementation

With a rebranding strategy chosen, creatives crafted and brand architecture engineered, you’ll now face the real challenge: brand implementation. This fourth instalment in our series on mergers and acquisitions dives into the three-step program that transforms brand blueprints into tangible experiences. From conducting brand audits to implementing and monitoring success, learn to navigate the critical post-planning phase of your M&A branding journey.

Step 1: Brand Audit and Mapping Your Rebranding Journey

The excitement of a new identity fades quickly when faced with the logistical labyrinth of brand implementation. Before diving headfirst into production, a thorough brand audit is essential. This critical first step acts as a roadmap, guiding you through the complexities of transitioning your brand from vision to reality.

Six key questions form the foundation of your audit:

  1. What Needs Rebranding?
    Catalogue every physical and digital touchpoint that embodies your brand, from stationery and signage to your website and social media presence. Leave no stone unturned – even minor details like employee lanyards and internal documents matter.
  2. Where are They Located?
    Understanding the geographical distribution of your branded assets is crucial for planning logistics and resource allocation. A global brand, for example, will require a different approach than a local one.
  3. Access and Legalities:
    Are there any physical or legal hurdles to accessing and rebranding certain items? Permits, regulations, or contractual obligations might complicate the process in specific locations.
  4. Quantity Counts:
    Knowing the precise number of items to be rebranded is essential for accurate budgeting and production planning. A precise inventory prevents costly overproduction or underestimation.
  5. Supplier Spotlight:
    Identifying the current suppliers of your branded assets allows you to leverage existing relationships or explore new partnerships for more efficient production and cost savings.
  6. Condition Check:
    A brand audit is the perfect opportunity to assess the state of your assets. Are they nearing the end of their lifespan? Could their replacement offer additional value or cost benefits?

Building Your Rebrand Team

For extensive rebranding projects, a dedicated team is vital. Assembling representatives from key departments like IT, HR, Legal, and Marketing ensures a holistic approach that considers every aspect of your business. This cross-functional collaboration fosters team bonding and knowledge sharing, especially during mergers and acquisitions.

Specialist Support

Consider partnering with a rebranding specialist company. They can provide valuable templates, data capture tools, and expertise to streamline the process and ensure efficient data collection.

Data Gathering Strategies

The best approach to data gathering depends on your resources and the nature of your assets. Technology can be your ally, utilizing self-surveys and AI to automate data collection for specific items.

Desktop Audits

Leverage the knowledge of your on-the-ground teams. Equipping them with the right questionnaires and templates allows you to gather valuable data remotely with minimal disruption to their daily operations.

In today’s smartphone-driven world, capturing visual data is easier than ever. Encourage employees to snap pictures of branded assets and upload them directly to your server, creating a readily accessible visual library.

Site Surveys

For in-depth data and accuracy, on-site surveys are the gold standard. Although more expensive due to travel and manpower requirements, they are particularly recommended for flagship locations or areas lacking a dedicated on-site team. Consider combining a detailed site survey with other tasks to maximize efficiency and avoid repeat visits.

Rebrand Checklist

Keep track of all the elements requiring your attention with a comprehensive rebrand checklist. This could include:

  • Stationery (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, etc.)
  • HR/Legal documents (contracts, etc.)
  • Signage (interior and exterior)
  • Fleet vehicles
  • Wearables/uniforms
  • Office materials (memos, forms, invoices, etc.)
  • Marketing materials (print, trade booths, merchandise, etc.)
  • Digital assets (website, social media, intranet, etc.)
  • Product packaging
  • Presentation templates
  • IT systems

Building Your Brand Asset Database

The brand audit culminates in a central database housing all the information gathered. This visual snapshot of your entire brand landscape serves as the foundation for:

  • Accurate planning and cost estimation: Knowing what needs to be done and where allows for precise budgeting and resource allocation.

  • Ongoing brand management: The database becomes a valuable reference point for future brand decisions and ensures consistency across all touchpoints.

Budgeting and Cost Control

With a clear understanding of your assets and their locations, you can set realistic budgets for the rebranding process. The audit will also reveal cost-saving opportunities, such as revitalizing existing items or divesting outdated ones.

There are various approaches to managing a global rebrand budget. A central budget for program management combined with local budgets for regional items often proves the most effective balance.

Remember: While minimising costs is important, your rebrand is also an investment. Organizations like Brand Finance can help quantify the potential increase in brand value resulting from a successful implementation.

'There are various approaches to managing a global rebrand budget. A central budget for program management combined with local budgets for regional items often proves the most effective balance.'

Step 2: From Strategy to Seamless Brand Implementation

Now that you know what needs to be rebranded, it’s time to consider the sequence of your rebrand activity.

Detailed analysis of your brand landscape will provide a clear indication of which brand implementation strategy is best for you. Armed with these insights, you can decide:

  • Are you looking for a PR splash with a single launch date for all sites?
  • Are you rolling out your branding market by market, for example, starting in Europe and moving to Asia?
  • Do you wish to prioritise specific sites in each market – rebrand your flagship sites in various countries before moving to lower-priority sites?
  • Is your rebrand phased over several months or years, depending on operational or legal requirements?
  • Consider your stakeholders – do you need to inform a regulator first?

Often it is helpful to introduce your new brand internally before you launch it to customers. This improves engagement and allows employees to become familiar with your new brand.

Communication Planning for a Rebrand

A carefully considered communications plan must be created for both internal and external stakeholders. The order of play is important.

Beyond the operational team who are working on the rebrand, internal engagement can make or break your rebrand. For rebrand success, it’s vital to get all your employees onboard, understanding why you are rebranding, what your new brand purpose is and exactly what the benefits are to them, to the wider company and your customers.

Cultivating Buy-In for Lasting Success

Winning hearts and minds at every level is key. This is best achieved when it’s both bottom-up and top-down.

A rebrand is a strategic initiative – usually taken at the board level. Appointing high-level Brand ambassadors who take responsibility for their area of the business will have a hugely positive impact on your rollout.

A rebrand is not an everyday kind of activity. For this reason, your leadership team should be encouraged to make the most of the opportunity to create excitement and vision for the future.

  • Consider launching the rebrand internally first. This way employees will feel more engaged and comfortable with the change.
  • Celebrate success. This is not business as usual and it gives you the perfect opportunity to create a feel-good factor, particularly if you are merging two different organisations. There’s nothing like branded merchandise to make it feel real and generate excitement.
  • Work with HR on a mirroring scheme to help break down barriers. For example, legal works with legal, marketing works with marketing etc. to identify best practices.
  • Provide practical training. FAQs on how to answer the phone, how to update email signatures, and how to deal with customer queries.
  • Brand the workspace. This is the perfect opportunity to develop your employer brand and embed your brand purpose and value.

Creating a Sense of Unity

We’ve already established that it’s vital to draw upon the network of your on-the-ground teams from an operational point of view.

They possess the specific knowledge of their area of the business to help you both identify and then deliver your branding across your entire organisation.

Cross-functional and cross-border communication will help to smooth the rollout and promote a sense of unity.

Developing an External Launch Plan

A detailed communications plan for all external stakeholders is also vital – regulatory bodies, customers, suppliers and membership organisations. Consider:

  • Targeted direct mail
  • A big PR launch
  • Face-to-face meetings with key customers

Why Program Management Matters

To ensure consistency of your brand and quality control over your suppliers, you must have a single pivot point.

Programme management is a science- there’s good reason for there being so many tried and tested project management methodologies – from Waterfall to Agile to Critical Path.

The complexity of managing a global branding programme – suppliers, permits, materials, installers – is not to be underestimated.

A professional Project Management team will be the driving force for your rebrand and external resources can be a useful boost here.

Local Brand Implementation Success

Globalisation has made the world smaller and we all inhabit a much more international community.

Occasionally it’s possible to use a single supplier who ships items across the world and dispatches a team of installers to different locations.

Aside from the obvious cost, we find that local works best and we generally call upon the members of our international network to fulfill regional requirements.

Advantages of a Local Team

  • Shared culture and language
  • Well-connected and more resourceful in finding solutions
  • Working within the same time zone
  • Local knowledge – this is particularly important where permits are required
  • Speed of response – local teams can be on the scene quickly
  • No shipping cost
  • Reduced environmental impact.

'Programme management is a science- there’s good reason for there being so many tried and tested project management methodologies – from Waterfall to Agile to Critical Path.'

Step 3: Monitoring and Tracking

One of the key roles of your Project Management team will be tracking progress and reporting back.

There are many off-the-shelf software options for this, such as Workfront, Asana or, and these can usually be customised to suit your exact needs. For larger programmes, you may want to consider a bespoke system. Keep the long-term in mind – you are building up a powerful picture of your business that will set you in good stead for future developments.

How to Measure the Success of Your Brand Implementation?

It’s important to monitor your metrics so that you can recognise success:

  • Number of sites rebranded
  • Snag-free installations
  • Total number of employees or customers reached

When it comes to measuring the wider success of your rebrand programme, think about:

  • Brand recognition and awareness
  • Market share
  • Premium pricing

Tell Your Rebrand Story

If you are dealing with a global rebrand that is not confidential, the reporting can easily be used as part of your marketing efforts. A powerful social media campaign could be a demonstration of the Mexican wave that your rebrand has created across the globe.

Be sure to capture photos and videos so that you can successfully tell your brand story.

Statistics are also useful in marketing terms. Track key metrics such as:

  • The number of touchpoints rebranded
  • The quantity of vinyl or paint used
  • The average time to rebrand a site

'One of the greatest tools for a rebrand is often a Digital Asset Management (DAM). This is the perfect opportunity to bring all your branded items into a single system where they can be managed.'

The Importance of Digital Asset Management Systems

One of the greatest tools for a rebrand is often a Digital Asset Management (DAM). This is the perfect opportunity to bring all your branded items into a single system where they can be managed.

If you already have a DAM, then it’s a great opportunity to do some housekeeping and tidying.

Any data should be carefully stored and can be used for future planning or brand updates.

Top Five Tips for Successful Brand Implementation

  1. Know your approach and create an implementation plan that fits with your company’s strategic aims.
  2. Work with local teams and ‘subject matter’ experts to identify all your brand touchpoints.
  3. Plan your communication – both internally and externally.
  4. Centrally coordinate your rebrand efforts to ensure quality control and brand consistency. Deploy local teams to deliver your branded assets in each market.
  5. Celebrate your success and don’t lose all your good work – maintain the reporting from your Audits and Surveys into a central database. Ready for the next rebrand?

Stay tuned for part 5, where we’ll examine Brand Governance, taking a detailed look at the three key steps in protecting your brand throughout the merger and acquisition process.

Find Out More

Our team of rebrand specialists is on hand to help with your rebrand, from strategy through to implementation. Contact us for an initial no-obligation chat.

Next Feature

Mergers & Acquisitions (Part 5): Brand Governance and How to Protect your Brand

In merger and acquisition situations, there is a union of different organisations with distinct brands. It’s vital that brand is considered early in the integration process. This will help to speed and smooth the acquisition process, protecting the value of your investment.