Brand naming – the case for creating a new brand name post M&A

Brand naming – the case for creating a new brand name post M&A

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 13:49

A major consideration for M&A activity in any organisation is ‘what to name the newly formed entity’.

Whether it is a large and well-established organisation looking to acquire smaller players or new start-ups looking to be acquired, every strategic M&A will come to the point of having to consider the brand name strategy that the new entity will move forward with.

When it comes to naming the new entity, there are generally three options to consider:

  • Retaining the existing name of the acquired company. The two brands may continue to operate under a parent brand within a house of brands model.
  • Transitioning the acquired brand to the acquiring company’s name and the companies operate as one brand.
  • The newly formed entity moves forward with a completely new name that is aligned with the overall new business strategy.

In this article, we will explore the third option, creating a new brand name.

When first considering this option, it may seem the most daunting, riskiest, and most costly option, however, it can bring with it some exciting opportunities for the new entity.

Reasons for opting for a new brand name

At BrandMatters, we’ve worked with many organisations in creating ‘brand new’ brand names as a result of a merger, acquisition or divestment.

Each brand challenge presented by our clients has been different, however, it was important to assess the risks and opportunities for creating a new brand. In every case, we recommended our clients undertake brand research to ensure the brand strategy marries with the business goals and strategic direction of the newly formed entity.

When choosing a new brand name, it is important to ensure the new brand resonates with the audience and is embraced by the entire organisation.

Creating a new brand name can become one of the most emotional tasks during the M&A rebrand process and can get caught up in organisational politics. Undertaking brand research allows you to assess various options without the bias and emotion.

A new brand name can be a powerful way to indicate change to the market. It can signal a transformation or a new direction. It also allows the organisation an opportunity to re-evaluate their purpose and positioning and create a name that communicates this to their core target audience.

Here are some examples of BrandMatters’ clients who have opted for a new name post M&A:

1. New brand name from Kmart Tyre & Auto to mycar

On the announcement of its sale by Wesfarmers to Continental AG, Kmart Tyre & Auto Service (KTAS) created a new brand name - mycar. The intent was to create a name that effectively aligned and transferred KTAS’ existing brand equity to the new brand and had a wider appeal to grow market share. Extensive market research enabled confidence in the name selection and de-risked moving forward with the new name and identity.

To read more about this project, click here.

2. New brand name from Dimmi to TheFork

When TripAdvisor acquired Australian online restaurant discovery and booking site Dimmi, they opted for a new name, a new logo, a new look website and new apps as part of an extensive rebranding initiative. The new brand name TheFork was already being used in other markets. The new name was tested in the Australian market prior to adoption and also to assess the contextual changes required to suit the new market.

To read more about this project, click here.

3. New brand name for Aon’s financial planning division to Tribel

When insurance giant Aon sought to divest itself of its financial planning business in Australia, Aon Hewitt, facilitated a management buy-out to establish a new, national business. Free from the constraints of a larger organisation and the brand governance requirements that brings, Aon Hewitt was able to become a new brand with its own entirely unique identity and character. BrandMatters created their new name that resonated with their internal stakeholders, aligned with their positioning and differentiated them within their market.

To read more about this project, click here.

These are just three unique examples of the work we’ve done creating new brands as a result of M&A activity. We look forward to launching quite a few more projects that are currently in the final stages of transformation. These include new brand creation projects in the tech, financial services and telecommunications industry.

A risk worth taking

Creating a new name may feel like a massive undertaking for some business leaders, however, it can act as a unifying asset that the whole team can get behind.

The right name and visual identity will allow the organisation a chance to put their best foot forward with a shared vision, a fresh new direction and aligned culture.

When embarking on creating a new brand post M&A, the following steps can help streamline and keep the decision objective:

1. Ensure the C-Suite are on board and open to a non-biased naming process.
2. Assess your overall business goals and strategic direction and portfolio objectives.
3. Gather the insights, data and objective views from customers, stakeholders, and the teams to find the synergies and most appropriate direction.
4. Bring the team on the journey.
5. Once the name has been selected, follow through with a strong new brand story and visual identity.

Consider a brand agency to create a new brand name pre or post M&A

Bringing in an independent agent or brand agency to assess the current position and make a recommendation on future strategy from a brand perspective can make or break the success of the post-merger organisation.

At BrandMatters, we’ve created quite a few brand names over the years.

The process we use is part science, part creative. We then gather our whole team for a name-storming session where we start with the brand research outputs, and the core brand attributes that the name needs to connect with. This session brings together our senior brand strategists, creative branding design experts and brand creation team.

We then articulate some naming categories, and the name-storming begins. In any given name storming we usually end up with an extensive list of possible names that relate to the brand’s attributes.

What follows, is a short listing of these names based on an extensive search on the category to see if it clears the initial relevant checks. These initial checks are vital before presenting options back to the business as it avoids the disappointment of a name being chosen that is already taken. We also recommend that once a name or two is selected that it is then checked by an IP lawyer to ensure it is clear in Australia and also internationally (should the business have plans to take the brand global).

There is a lot to consider in the naming process and it is certainly more effective to outsource this process than attempt to do it internally.

Whether you are mid M&A or at the beginning of the process, BrandMatters can help you uncover and articulate the right brand strategy and brand name to lead your organisation to success.