6 Brand Strategy Considerations for Merging Brands

Brand mergers are common business practice, occurring most frequently in the healthcare, retail, technology and financial services industries. And there are many reasons mergers are a good idea, from gaining market share and cutting operational costs to improving products or diversifying services.

Whatever the business reason, there’s an important facet of the merger to consider: how to effectively and efficiently merge two (or more) existing brands into one new, cohesive brand.

Although it may sound like the easy part, a lot of planning and thought must be baked into the brand merger process, including aligning on business goals, merging team cultures, retaining (and improving) customer experiences and communicating through a cohesive brand strategy.

To help guide you in this process, here are six brand strategy questions to ask when merging two or more brands:

1. What is the current state of our brand?                                               

There’s a reason your two brands are merging. But in all likelihood, you may have been competing against each other for years—if not decades.

At the beginning of brand strategy exploration, it’s vital to get a team together to look at all the angles of the existing brands—from positioning and identity to internal culture—to understand where similarities exist and where any big differences may fall.

At Motion, we recommend selecting a cross-functional group from both merging brands [SC1] that are important to your business and customers. Integrating this larger team will make the process more transparent and inclusive as you create a shared vision for who you want to be as you move forward together.

Additional research, such as brand awareness and competitive analysis, can also be layered in to expand your understanding of the current state. Oftentimes, we find that there are more similarities between the brands and cultures than expected, creating a clear path forward.

2. Who is our audience, and what do they want from our brand?

Although mergers are often driven by internal decisions, it’s important to remember that your customers are vital to driving your success. You’ve already built and established identities for the existing brands that your customers know and trust, whether that’s the name and logo or a customer experience that left a lasting impression. But if these loyal customers don’t buy into the new brand or understand what it is, the merger may not be successful.

As you work through your merger and brand strategy, keep your audiences front and center to ensure your new brand strategy answers the call and needs of the customers. Some sample questions to examine include:

  • Will your audiences stay the same, or will you be targeting new audiences?
  • What do your audiences look like demographically and psychographically?
  • How are your customers making decisions, and what is important to them as they make those decisions?

There are several ways to get answers to these questions, such as reviewing existing customer data or conducting customer interviews or surveys to get their opinions on likes and dislikes. Additional external research can also be conducted to help deepen insights, especially if you’re trying to tap into a new audience.

3. How do we strategically position our new brand going forward?

With some foundational understanding of your existing brands and customers, it’s time to put pen to paper and develop key positioning elements to drive the new brand forward.

The best first step is to establish a positioning statement. This short statement is intended for internal use only, and should reflect both the current state of your business as well as aspiration for where you see the business progressing in the future.

To deepen the positioning, establish four to six brand attributes that set the tone of the brand. These should be short and easy to remember.

Once leadership and key stakeholders are aligned, the positioning statement and brand attributes will become the “North Star” for your new brand. They will help drive everything from brand visual identity and communications tone to internal culture and future business decisions.

4. What do we want our new brand to sound, look and feel like?

With your new brand’s strategic foundation in place, it’s time to stretch some creative muscles. Depending on your merger guidelines and the discovery output from both internal teams and customers, the focus of this phase may alter.

Some things to consider include:


Do you want to consider keeping one of the current brand names or seek out something completely new? New is exciting, but there’s usually equity baked into a name, so new isn’t always the best way forward. If one of the current brand names aligns with the new positioning, it may be worth keeping.

If you’re going to pursue a new name, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, such as your competitive set, ownability, trademark conflicts and URL availability. Beyond those limitations, you should consider what types of names your company is open to: Do you need something short? Does the name need to clearly reflect your product offerings? Are you open to made-up names? Setting these parameters early will guide naming efforts in the right direction.

Logo & Visual Identity

Once a name is selected, a visual identity can be created for the brand. This can include everything from the logomark to the brand colors, fonts and iconography. Combined, these elements make up a cohesive design language and visual system that can be used across all dimensions of internal and external communications.

Brand Hierarchy

Brand hierarchy can be vital to more complex businesses or product offerings that need to establish or maintain some degree of individual identity, while still relating to a master or parent brand. It’s helpful to review the holistic hierarchy of needs during the branding process to develop strategic solutions and guidelines for the relationships that will exist between products, service lines, locations, and sub-brands to the overall brand. Brand hierarchy can be inclusive of nomenclature and/or visual application that will be consistently applied to the new brand.

5. How do we communicate and launch our new brand?

Branding does not stop with a new name and logo. In fact, the launch of the brand can be even more integral to its success than the development of the new brand. Establishing a communication plan, including goals and KPIs, budget, tactics and timing, can ensure you’re meeting expectations from leadership while also building up excitement and interest.

This is also a great opportunity to take some of the earlier learnings about your audience and communicate your new brand to them in the way they want. It could mean executing something as grandiose as a spectacle event or producing something as simple and efficient as an email. The most important thing is that it aligns to your customers’ needs and your brand’s new positioning.

But don’t forget your internal audience! They can be one of the most overlooked audiences of a brand launch, when in fact, they may be the most important. Harvard Business Review states that between 70% and 90% of mergers and acquisitions fail, and it’s most often because of people. Getting your team excited about and aligned with the brand can pay off ten-fold as they become your top brand stewards. So, consider going beyond cheap tchotchkes and make sure you’re giving them some real fanfare for the brand launch, too.

6. How do we transition our collateral to our new brand?

As an existing brand, you likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of branded pieces, from your website to PowerPoint templates and business cards. It may seem impossible to transition this all into your new brand.

Before you get overwhelmed, stop and take an assessment of the pieces you have. Consider things like:

  • What is most impactful to your business and should be your top priority?
  • What can you eliminate or optimize through your new brand conversion?
  • What can you handle with internal resources and where do you need assistance?

Rome wasn’t built in a day—and neither was your brand. Tackle updates in phases and set expectations that it will take time. And, if budget allows, bring in an experienced outside team of branding experts (like Motion!) to systematically update your world of branded assets.

Need help finding the best path forward for your merging brands? Luckily, Motion has extensive experience helping brands navigate the road of brand mergers. Check out our case study on Zentro to see how we brought two competing companies together in our Acceleration Lab. The enlightening result was a single new, future-forward brand and organization fueled by research and strategy, positioning, brand identity and collateral development.