Mergers & Acquisitions – The importance of a vision for your new brand culture

If we are honest, there isn’t a merger or acquisition that can truly be described as a match made in heaven as far as brand is concerned.

Yet why are some mergers or acquisitions more suited than others? Why do some succeed and others fail?

Those that succeed have one vision that is clearly understood and shared by all. When two companies come together, there are many dynamics that affect a brand’s culture in a negative way – different leadership styles; uncertainty among your people; confused and inconsistent brand messages; multi-office organisations; regions across the UK where clients and markets can vary, and an unclear message as to why the merger took place.

Defining the vision for your newly formed organisation is the first step to achieve clarity, motivation and buy-in from your people. If the management team cannot articulate why the business has come together and if the future of the brand is not clear, then dissonance and uncertainty will creep in among your most important asset.

The only element that can make brand evolution possible is your people. If they don’t believe in or understand the vision, your business will find building its brand an enormous challenge. Added to this, is the fact that all successful brands need one consistent culture and cultures cannot be forced, brand cultures must evolve and this also takes time. To evolve a culture requires everyone in your organisation to buy into it.

Just how big is the task? ….

Let’s take the success story of “The World’s Favourite Airline”

In 1971 British European Airways (BEA) and British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) were brought together to form British Airways.

At the heart of shaping BA’s culture was the ‘Putting People First’ training programme launched by Colin Marshall, the company’s chief executive. Originally the programme was intended for staff who had direct contact with customers. But the programme was attended to all 40,000+ employees.

A fantastic example of commitment to developing a brand with everyone in the organisation – the Putting People First programme focussed on everything from training staff on their own personal wellbeing; setting goals; understanding the new vision and managing the client journey. Aspects such as employment policies and practices were adapted to fit with the new way. ‘Families’ of staff were created to work the same shift patterns to provide mutual support and make cabin crew feel happier about their work environments.

BA also believed that once staff experience what it is like to work in a great, customer centric culture, no-one wants to lose that. High standards, strong values, become a personal passion.

The perfect match?

Whilst it might seem like the perfect match for the organisations – think about the impact on your people. When businesses don’t get this right in the early stages, it can take many years for change to take place.

When bringing together two well established companies, it is important to not only respect each other’s culture but to drive motivation for change. To do this, the leadership of the new business will need to lay down the exciting new vision for the future in way that respects the past, recognises the effort of all, and honestly highlights and supports the challenge of change.