How to ensure your tech M&A rebrand is smooth even at Silicon Valley speed

How to ensure your tech M&A rebrand is smooth even at Silicon Valley speed

Share

Monday, August 10, 2020 | Philip Guiliano

All rebrands are, by nature, complicated. But tech companies like yours must contend with more than a few unique considerations. That’s especially true if your rebrand is the result of an M&A transaction.

To achieve the goals of your tech rebrand – increased market position, revenue, and profitability – you’ll need to craft a highly customized rebranding plan. And that plan must successfully navigate a host of issues, from integration to IP laws and international trade considerations.

The tech space moves at breakneck speed. Here’s what you need to know if your tech company is gearing up for a transaction-driven rebrand.

The unique challenges of an M&A-driven tech rebrand

M&A-driven tech rebrands happen all the time, but that doesn’t make them any less demanding. That’s especially true given the following challenges.

  • Global companies equal global rebrands. Global rebrands always entail more hoops and red tape, from import and export regulations to compliance. And in the tech space, global rebrands are extremely common. Unfortunately, many tech companies fail to consider the additional planning required to transition branded assets in a global context. You must be especially attuned to these complexities if you are planning to achieve a “big bang”-style conversion of your assets (as opposed to a phased approach). It’s safe to say that you’ll need at least six to nine months of planning and lead time in order to convert your assets.
  • Complex sales channels. Many tech companies utilize a tangled web of sales channels, including partnership channels, third-party retailers, and distribution channels. Your rebrand plan must take into account each of these various channels — and ensure that your new brand is executed consistently across all of them.
  • White-room negotiations. M&A negotiations often take place in what’s called a “white room” or “clean room.” This means that each firm has limited information about the other one until the deal is finalized. Yet rebrand implementation planning must begin far in advance of a deal’s closing. The result? Marketers must somehow formulate comprehensive rebrand plans with incomplete information about the current state of the other company’s brand and marketing operations.
  • Culture clash. Tech companies pride themselves on their culture. Yet culture can often become a rebranding stumbling block. In fact, it is the flashpoint at which most failed tech mergers and acquisitions fall apart. The trouble doesn’t come in combining products and driving synergies from services. It’s in merging the firm’s cultures, keeping in mind that culture is ultimately responsible for attracting and retaining top talent. Your integration plan must include elements that enhance culture and make your team’s jobs easier.
  • Integrating operations. Tech companies — especially Silicon Valley startups — are known for being fast-paced, flexible, and iterative. They pride themselves on their ability to figure things out on the fly. That’s great for innovation, but not ideal for operational consistency. If your firm (or the one you’re in talks with) doesn’t have strong operational processes in place, then your integration just got more challenging. Your first step is to establish a clear understanding of how each company’s marketing organization functions. The goal? Work to establish clear, repeatable processes that set you up for rebranding success.
  • Marketers are missing at the planning table. The promise of IP and synergistic opportunities drive most tech deals. Which means that these deals typically aren’t driven by marketing objectives. In fact, marketers often don’t have a seat at the table during the initial integration talks. Because they fail to involve marketers early enough, many tech companies don’t begin detailed rebrand planning until late in the process resulting in a compressed timeline to plan for launch.

The right integration plan starts with the right rebranding partner

In order to successfully integrate two tech companies, you’ll need to begin with a holistic and comprehensive plan — one that organizes for thoroughness, cultural alignment, cost-effectiveness, and speed. At BrandActive, we have extensive experience guiding tech companies through mergers. In particular, we work with our tech clients to:

  • Address brand and marketing operations. Mergers and acquisitions represent a prime opportunity to get your tech brand’s proverbial house in order. Doing so doesn’t just make for a more efficient and streamlined integration. It also yields major efficiency gains that add up to long-term savings. When you partner with BrandActive, we provide a data-driven assessment of the current state of operations to identify which areas of potential improvement will deliver the highest impact. Then we help your team create standardized, optimized, efficient, and repeatable processes in every area of your marketing operations (including distributors). Equally as important, you set yourself up for brand consistency and excellence in brand governance for the newly integrated entity.
  • Get marketers a seat at the table. When you engage BrandActive, we provide you with the tools to make the case that marketing should have a seat at the planning table from the very beginning of a merger or acquisition. We do this by building a fact-based business case related to the marketing costs and opportunities of your M&A-driven tech rebrand. In addition, we help your leadership team understand the potential to realize marketing synergies as part of the transaction.
  • Navigate white-room deals. Trying to plan an integration-driven rebrand without concrete details related to the other firm’s assets? BrandActive can step in and fill the gap based on our deep understanding of the tech space. Using our comprehensive database and proprietary Rebrand Analytics Engine (RAE), we can extrapolate asset inventories and cost models based on publicly available data.
  • Plan for a “flash” brand conversion. In the tech world, everyone expects brand conversions to take place instantaneously, the moment a deal closes. But creating that kind of “flash” brand conversion requires an enormous amount of coordination and advance planning, from legal filings, regulatory compliance, and import-export logistics to IT, HR, and sales channels. BrandActive brings over twenty years of rebranding experience to bear on your integration. As a result, you can rest easy knowing that your brand will convert on schedule, in accordance with your rebranding strategy.
  • Create an effective rebranding communications plan. It goes without saying that you’ll need to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences about the rebrand—your employees, customers, stockholders, regulators, and community members. Don’t forget the analyst community, which is extremely influential in the tech space. Companies like yours often rely on analysts’ favorable assessments and recommendations. So when it comes to planning your merger-driven rebrand, you must create a plan to engage analysts (as well as news media, key core customers, and sales channels and other partners) to set expectations for your rebrand well in advance of your launch. BrandActive helps you (and your PR agency, if you use one) coordinate a communications plan that puts you ahead of the conversation and creates the right kind of buzz for your new brand.

Want to learn more about how BrandActive can help your tech company navigate an M&A-driven rebrand? We’d love to hear from you.

Related Insights