You get a call from the CEO: “Hey, we just acquired Company XYZ for $2.1 billion. What is Marketing’s plan?” At technology companies, this scenario has become increasingly common. And if you have been keeping up with the state of the technology landscape, you are well aware that M&A activity is at a breakneck pace. Between Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Apple and HPE, over twenty billion dollars have already been spent on acquisitions in the technology sector this year. And this won’t be slowing down anytime soon—it aligns with the expectations for massive technology, media, and telecommunication deals in a 2019 Deloitte report.
But, with all of that being said, how do you integrate your suddenly bigger technology company during this tumultuous time?
Rebranding due to technology acquisition
Acquiring a promising company or engaging in a merger of equals is not a recent phenomenon. These types of transactions have been happening for well over 100 years. The primary drivers include reducing costs, taking advantage of economies of scale, and unlocking growth. And in today’s global, digital marketplace, technology companies are rife with opportunity.
Say you decide that the best way to manage your latest acquisition is by adopting a “net new” name. (A net new name is one that has no historic ties to either company. Think Bell Atlantic + GTE = Verizon.) HPE and CSC faced a similar scenario in 2016. After evaluating four different options for this merger, the decision to create a wholly new name came to fruition. Thus, DXC Technology was born.
Rebranding a new technology giant
Rebranding due to an M&A impacts every department in both organizations. Individuals responsible for fleet, facilities, marketing, IT, legal, and countless others need to be involved for optimum results. And if your company is like DXC Technology, then geography becomes a factor as well.
Auditing your branded assets is the name of the game in these early stages. Once you have a proper audit of these assets, it’s time to develop and evaluate different rebranding scenarios, varying by scope, quality, timing, and other factors. By deciding what is most vital for your technology rebrand, you can pick the best scenario based on your budget and requirements.
DXC Technology operates as six regions, with operations in 59 countries. All were impacted by the new name, resulting in the need for a plan that accounted for multiple languages as well as country-specific regulatory environments. That meant going to local teams in individual countries to work out processes for issues such as proofreading and permitting, while also making sure their signage, digital collateral, and physical technology systems are addressed.
Now that all of your branded assets have been assessed and you have decided on replacing, discarding, retrofitting, or neutralizing, it’s time to prioritize. Things like signage and fleet are huge differentiators for most companies, as they are highly visible representations of your brand living in the marketplace. But, this may not be the case for your technology company. Hardware, software, user-interfaces, and digital touchpoints are likely crucial as a starting point. Having the old brand on these touchpoints can leave visitors confused, or wondering how buttoned up your company is.
Through smart categorization of all your assets, you can strategize on which are the most important for your day one launch. For DXC Technology, key branded assets were signage, digital collateral, and Day One launch materials to get the biggest bang.
But, this project is far from over. It’s time to create your ideal roadmap for brand change.
Structuring your technology rebranding project
It’s vital to not forget implications of your net new name on branded products and packaging, especially for a global company like DXC Technology. It can be worth your weight in gold to have Legal involved as early as possible to avoid potential customs and imports/exports headaches with rebranded products. Your rebrand organization should include representatives from HR, IT, Facilities, and any other function that has responsibility for branded assets.
Consolidation of vendors is a natural offshoot as well. As you begin replacing branded assets, why not save on costs by using one highly qualified vendor instead of three? These are the type of decisions that can help to unlock the largest ROI for your rebranding project.
Unique problems for technology rebrands
Today’s technology companies are equipped to accomplish significant feats with lean teams, dealing with constant growth and an ever-evolving marketplace. Since these companies are always growing, there is a constant need to play catch-up internally to ensure that brand is consistent across many different touchpoints, new and old.
Unlike companies in the CPG world, which are marketing led, technology companies are often driven by direct sales teams who are working to achieve quotas. As a result, marketing and brand teams at tech companies tend to be leaner than CPG companies, and not prepared to execute a project of this scale AND keep up with their day jobs. Add the fact that many of these technology marketers have not been through a rebrand before, and you have a perfect storm.
This may lead to a lackluster day one brand launch, or even worse, a postponed launch. Another added wrinkle of complexity here is the merger itself. Which budgets will the rebrand funds be coming from? The merger integration budget, or other capital and operating funds? This situation has important financial ramifications, especially if certain funds are only available while the deal is in progress. Quite often some rebrand spending will be categorized as a capital expense of the larger deal, so including as many facets of the budget as possible is a tremendous opportunity. In that scenario, it would be wise to consider front-loading spending where applicable.
This is where a rebranding partner can be pivotal in the success of your project. Financial planning for a rebranding budget requires detailed and carefully considered budgets. But, a rebrand implementation partner can arm you with the resources and experience to properly implement a rebrand based on the specifics of your new merger or acquisition. Want to make the most out of your technology company’s rebranding? Read on to learn more about key considerations and how to make the most of the unique opportunities inherent in rebranding programs.