Timing is critical when creating a new company or carve-out. And one of your biggest considerations should be marketing. Even before the deal closes, there are questions you should answer and important actions you should initiate in order to stay on track.
Does the company need a new name? Or is there equity in the current name?
While exploring names sounds like fun, there is a science behind it. And finding a name that is both ideal and available isn’t easy. It starts with determining the attributes and values of your company; identifying words, word roots, and word associations that reflect those qualities; and exploring themes that inspire creative development. It also involves researching competitors, trademarks, global language meanings, slang interpretations, URL clutter, and more.
2. Brand Identity
Will you retain the current look and feel, or refresh to signify a new start?
If you opt for a new brand identity, the first place to start is the logo, a visual representation of your company’s name and values. The logo should communicate traits (strength, approachability, confidence, etc.) that put your company in the right light for customers, employees, and the community. The logo will inform the overall look and feel of your marketing, from the color palette to fonts to imagery.
Also consider developing a good tag line. A tag line can be purely descriptive, or it can assert your unique position in the marketplace in a memorable and engaging way.
Finally, you’ll need to test how well your new identity resonates with others. At the outset, decide how much testing your budget and timeline will allow in the brand development process. Testing can be done at any stage—naming, logo development, tag line exploration, and overall design—and might include focus groups, surveys, and selective internal and customer reviews.
3. Brand Guidelines
How will your company and others use your new brand?
Once the brand’s new look and feel has been approved, you’ll need guidelines for the internal team, as well as any third-party support, to ensure brand continuity across all assets.
Typically, guidelines provide usage requirements for the logo, color palette, and fonts; guidance on the types of images to select; examples of misuses; and proper execution of the identity in different channels such as print, digital, and social media.
4. Template Development
What templates will help you hit the ground running?
Whether you’re creating a new brand or refreshing an existing one, custom-designed marketing templates will facilitate quick deployment and easy updates. Templates can range from simple stationery (letterhead, envelopes, business cards, press releases) to pieces that tell the brand story, such as brochures, datasheets, presentations, email, videos, advertising, media kits, and more.
5. Launch Communication Strategy and Marketing Plan
What will you say? How and when will you say it?
Every PE acquisition undergoing a branding revamp needs a strategy for communicating—to both employees and customers—the story behind the change, and the benefits. Your strategy should outline what to say, which channel to use for each audience, and timing for each message. Consider PR as well to magnify the message. Then implement your strategy with a detailed marketing plan that includes budgeting, an advertising schedule, tradeshow participation, sales support materials, and more.
6. Social Media Management Transition
Does your communication strategy include social media?
Make certain you have access to all existing social channels prior to acquisition’s end so you can maintain control of reputation management and ongoing social media management. Develop a content calendar outlining what communication goes out, when, and to what channels. Focus on explaining what is happening, when the transition will take place, and what customers should expect in the future.
7. Email/CRM Platform Transition
How can you provide a seamless email transition experience?
Acquiring customer data is a vital part of any acquisition, so be sure to properly transition email databases or marketing/sales lead lists from the existing CRM platform to the new platform.
It’s also important to properly communicate to your existing customers during the acquisition.
- Set up a transition series of emails to alert customers to the acquisition and set expectations. Let them know how service will improve or stay the same and when changes will take place.
- Once the acquisition is complete, set up a series of welcome emails to explain more about who you are and describe what customers should expect.
8. Website Management Transition
How can you leverage your web presence while the transition is underway?
If you’re taking over an existing company’s site, it can be difficult to get a fully designed website built in time for the acquisition announcement. A fast, temporary solution is to build a transitional landing page to alert users of the acquisition; this becomes a destination for formal PR announcements and press releases.
It’s important to properly acquire all website assets from the previous company before systems are shut down, or those with credentials are no longer available. Assets include:
- Domain registration or transfer
- SSL ownership
- Content management system access
- Database and/or other server access
Once your newly designed site is live, place 301 redirects for every key page from the old site to the new site. This capitalizes on the previous site’s existing SEO rank and ensures faster indexing for the new site or brand. Redirects also ensure anyone searching for the old site will be properly transferred to the new site URL.
It’s also important to consider how you will manage website content. How will you incorporate e-commerce, lead generation, email marketing, and other tools? A robust yet user-friendly content management system is critical. Check out these tips for choosing the right CMS for your company.
Local listing/SEO transition
Be sure to transition ownership of any claimed listings before the acquisition’s closure. Once access to a listing is lost it’s very difficult to regain, and you will be competing with the closed company you just acquired in organic rank and the local listing pack. Common local listings you should consider acquiring include:
- Google My Business
- Apple Connect (Apple Maps)
Once you’ve acquired access to local listings, go through each platform and update the old information. This will help with SEO and speed up the overall transition from the old company to the new.
9. Seasoned Help
Who will you turn to for marketing support?
The timely and successful marketing of your new acquisition is no walk in the park. An experienced marketing agency like Oden can bring the expertise you need to meet your tight transition deadlines and also provide lasting, forward-thinking solutions that can serve you for years to come.