Acquisitions, mergers and takeovers are far too familiar in today’s marketplace. In fact, in the past decade, I have worked for 3 Canadian companies that have either merged or been been acquired by a US firm. As businesses evolve and grow from these complex transactions it is critical how they position themselves in the eyes of all their stakeholders. These changes can be both exciting and can create uncertainty for consumers, investors and employees alike. Marketing, plays a crucial role the way the newly formed entity will be portrayed. It is the heroic efforts of marketing teams to rescue brand identities from getting misconstrued in the market. Fortunately, marketers are armed with Social Media tools to aid them though the all stages of an an A&M.
Pre-Merger Due Diligence- Do You Really Know What You’re Acquiring?
Prior to an acquisition Marketers can gather valuable Intel about companies they wish to align themselves usually by Social Media tools like LinkedIn and Facebook. Social media profiles, if set up correctly can be assets for Entrepreneurs looking for an exit.
International business law and litigation firm Fasken Martineau conducted a survey on the Role Social Media Plays in Mergers & Acquisitions.
Their key findings
“Our survey revealed that senior M&A executives are certainly using social media, and some are using it to research and communicate deals. Interestingly, social platforms are currently viewed by M&A professionals as having less value than other sources of information, and most don’t currently see great value in social media’s application outside of post-merger integration. It will be very interesting to see if the SEC guidance will impact this perception and if in fact we will see an increased acceptance of these tools in the M&A and general finance community.” – Kareen Zimmer, a partner in Fasken Martineau’s corporate and M&A practice groups 
To see results of their survey click here Fasken Martineau 2013 M&A Social Media Survey
Research through Social Media, can bring wealth of information about your M&A target. According to Iris Vermeren at Brandwatch you are able investigate the company’s health and reputation, its products, its customers, the market and even competitors.
“Mergers and acquisitions create uncertainty for consumers, so post-merger marketing messages and initiatives should focus on providing a sense of security. Brand confusion is the number one brand killer, and mergers and acquisitions create a great deal of brand confusion in the minds of consumers. The marketer’s job is to clear up any confusion in a believable way.”
Acquisition Completed – Now It’s Marketing to the Rescue
Through this phase the newly formed entity’s marketing team will need to juggle
maintaining day to day operations at the same time develop marketing strategy that will work best for the unified company. In order to forge a strong marriage of these companies moving forward the right branding strategy has to be adopted that will suit the culture and product offerings of both entities that have amalgamated. How will they represent the new entity – Will the acquired company assimilate and eliminated? Are they going to continue business as usual? Will they mix it up and incorporate some of the new and some of the old company? Or will they do a total re-brand and creation of a new identity?
Some interesting research has been done in this area of branding strategies for M&As. In the video clip below Jonathan Knowles of Type 2 Consulting discusses 3 categories of post-merger brand strategy and shares some surprising research results concerning the significance of customer and employee good will.
A great discussion by Brian Mulligan of Real World Branding discusses Four Different types of post M&A Brand Architectures and how they are considered based on the situation of the acquisition. “Suffice it to say brand architecture is super important, it is complicated and it’s also very stimulating. There’s a bunch of different approaches here and, as noted, the situational differences are what ultimately carries the day in terms of what the correct approach is for the companies in question.” This graphic represents the breakdown of each strategy type.
I must admit that my interest in this topic was sparked by the recent acquisition made by my employer. In December 2014, BCS Global acquired Video Guidance in order to complement its product and service offerings, and to develop greater sales and operations in North America. 
As employees of this newly formed company we are engaged regularly with updates on transformation by our marketing team and different levels of management. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the initiatives that our marketing team is involved with and how they are using social media to implement them. I reached out to Dan Driscoll, our Director of Marketing and Communications to learn more about this significant milestone, marketing strategies and future plans for our merged entity. He graciously took to take time out of his very busy schedule to answer some of my questions, thank you Dan:
To recap Dan’s Q&A:
Here’s a breakdown of the communication plan moving forward for our newly formed company:
- A New, Updated Website – A new website will provide the market a refreshed company message, simplified product portfolio, strong partner presence and easy to use navigation.
- Industry Consultant Assistance – Several reputable industry consulting firms will assist us in launching the new identity. We are going to record executive interviews to post and promote via their networks and communication channels.
- Press Release – Marketing will send out a global press release to inform the industry communities that we are changing our corporate identity and why.
- Customer Communications – Marketing has developed specific customer letters to communicate our exciting news.
- Partner Communications – Partner communications have been created.
- Employee Communications – This weekly letter is a component of our employee communication plan.
- Social Media – We will use all our communication channels to spread the news and our new message.
I also had a opportunity to correspond with Chris Townsend Marketing Assistant in our UK office who provided some further insights on this marketing initiative.
- What is the “Brand Book” and what information does it contain? Was it written from scratch or did you take parts of both companies and merged it together?
The brand book holds the complete list of Dos & Don’ts from a brand perspective. We list everything from the correct use of colours, layouts, fonts, logo use, mission statements, caucus and company positioning, partner rules and collateral template ideas and graphic styles (Business cards to coffee mugs). Essentially, on launch, the brand book is our companies guide for all things branded.
We initially built this based this on elements held from both companies. However, as with the brand, our main aim behind the brand book is to merge the ethos of two different companies into one. Streamlining the messages without alienating either side.
- What Social media is used in your re-branding efforts?
Currently, we have to keep everything very quiet until the brand launch. Although we have been building blog articles, videos and downloadable tools from both companies over the last six months. These will be released in a steady and constant stream once release date comes. These are likely to be published over LinkedIn and twitter primarily. With LinkedIn, we benefit from our staff being able to see/ share content to others who are likely in the industry. For key vertical messages and product-related messages, we get much better traction here. It is a key for the success of our newly formed company that all employees share our new vision. Marketing will provide additional LinkedIn best practices in the future to have everyone help us launch. Twitter is more of an in the moment social tool; info graphics, blogs, videos and feel good stories create a better conversation.
- Do you have a plan on how you will communicate the news via social media to your customers.
Firstly, we will target our old followers to entice them over to the new brand. Secondly, we get a second chance at a first impression with industry specialists. With a big resource library available for posting on the main social networks we can look into posting articles through groups and from Exec level employees.
- How are you preparing for the launch are you using any industry tools?
We are using Hubspot marketing platform, in order to prepare us for the launch. This all in one solution, has been instrumental as it lets us structure plan and build posts in advance. Everything from personalized links, landing pages and campaigns.
Over the last year our marketing team has been vigorously working towards aligning newly merge company. For now my lips are sealed for any further release of information until our upcoming launch date on March 28, 2016.
So please check back for an update after our Big Reveal…
Post Merger -Unveiling the New Brand
“Coming together is beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” – Henry Ford
I am very excited about our newly formed company and am anxiously looking forward to see how it is welcomed by my fellow employees, our partner network and ultimately our customers.
The day is here after so much preparation your company is now ready to launch your New Brand. Here are some tips to help in an effective message execution:
- Generate hype with employees, make them your brand ambassadors. Empower them with enough knowledge about the new brand, its benefits to deliver and answer questions by external stakeholders.
Be honest, lay out your aspirations going forward. Explain the evolution that has made your company different from or better than it was. Briefly explain how this benefits all stakeholders. This step is better coming from Top Management.
- Deliver a consistent message by linking all your social media and posts to your press release and new company website.
- People like pictures- they tell a story and help you keep connected with your audience during this time. It will also assure them that things are going according to plan and get them excited about the new changes.
- Ensure all your social media is updated and promoting your New Brand. For more on this see Mashable article How to Manage a Rebrand
- Keep telling your story. It takes a while for a rebranding to sink in with customers and prospects. Be ready to tell your story over and over again in different ways as the message sinks in. Ask your advocates to share it, too.
- Oh yes most importantly Celebrate! As you work through the transition, you’ll get positive feedback Share it, use it to reinforce your story, and encourage your social network to do the same. 
Lastly, Dan Ratner, managing director of branding, Uberbrand sums it up best”
In a global market where disruptors are constantly changing the marketplace, having an up-to-date, relevant brand is vital. A strategic, informed approach to a rebranding smooths the transition for employees and gives an organisation the strongest possible chance of future success. 
Lessons for Others
From our marketing team to yours….
- Get everybody involved from the very beginning – use research from your customers, external recommendations and internal employee workshops.
- Keep the decision making team small, in order to be aggressive in your plan.
- Set aggressive goals, keep with our deadlines and make decisions quickly to keep up with your launch timeline.
- Acquiring Marketing tools like Hubspot can offer you lead time in preparing, organizing and managing communications prior to launching of their re-branded entity.
BCS Global Networks Limited
Name of Organization Contact: Dan Driscoll, our Director of Marketing and Communications and to Chris Townsend Marketing Assistant
Authored by: Shel
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
 Chalifour, Genevieve (29 May 2013) http://www.fasken.com/new-survey-defines-role-for-social-media-in-ma/ retrieved from Fasken Martineau on 02 March 2016
 Vermeren, Iris (18 march 2014) https://www.brandwatch.com/2014/03/using-social-media-to-inform-mergers-acquisitions/ retrieved from Brandwatch on 02 March 2016
 Gunelius, Susan “https://aytm.com/blog/research-junction/brand-strategy-for-mergers-and-acquisitions-part-2/” retrieved from AYTM Blogs on 02 March 2016
 Gullan, Bill (11 February 2016) “http://finchbrands.com/rwb38/” retrieved from FinchBrands on 03 March 2016
 Townsend, Chris (1-Dec 2014) “http://blog.bcsglobal.com/video-guidance-announcement” retrieved from BCS Global Blogs on 02 March 2016
 Sargent, Joellyn (14 August 2015) “http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/10-steps-rebrand-business-social-media-10310/” retrieved from Mazimize Social Buiness on 06 March 2016
 Ratner, Dan (06 August 2015) “http://www.cmo.com.au/blog/cultural-connection/2015/08/06/why-companies-should-consider-rebranding-after-acquisition/” retrieved from CMO Blogs 02 March 2016