Two companies get together. It was good alone, it'll be better together.

There's amazing potential to mergers and great value to be found in the combo. Higher scale, more clout, complementary assets, productive synergies and combined talent produce new opportunities. Companies unite so they can move forward quicker and make progress happen faster.

Getting It Together 2

But will there be friction or will they gel? Is one of them a dominant alpha company, the other a quietly brilliant niche specialist who just don't get on? Who's going to run the twinned entity and will decision makers see eye to eye or scratch each other’s out? These are the typical challenges to overcome, alongside the regulatory hurdles, cultural integration, operational continuity, cost cutting agonies, competitor responses, leadership jostles and even the naming peccadillos that all make post-merger integration so very challenging.

Mergers most often make the popular headlines, if the situation turns aggressive. A punchy company seeks to take out another by hook or by crook, resentments build, atmospheres are poisoned, cultures set against each other and one questions how all the new colleagues can possibly work in seamless unity?

Some mergers, by contrast are like marriages made in heaven, if you believe in heaven (or marriage). The two merger partners may be so similar in culture or ambition that little prompting is needed before they fall into each other's arms. Even in this rose-tinted scenario however, the work of streamlining and unification has to be done, and there will no doubt be hitches.

A meaningful purpose unites people and defines their way forward, together. Progressive management teams know that the brand purpose will be central to the thinking and to the operation of the new business. Indeed a shared purpose and the vision to achieve it may have brought the two players close in the first place. The values and principles that emerge shape a shared culture and define a new way of working in the new entity.

The brand will have a major positive and progressive role to play in unifying those who were previously separate. It's crucial to get the merger of brands right.

Brands are a driving force for enhancing, accelerating and succeeding in a merger:

  • A meaningful purpose drives the formation of the new entity, and it's not just let's merge and get big! The brand needs the depth and power to unify everyone, guiding them in the right direction. 
  • With a shared purpose comes a shared creed, the values to believe in (and be held to!) It'll set out how things are done, going forward; what behaviour is encouraged; what attitudes will shape future decisions. That's how it builds a new culture.
  • In turn, this will help shape the capabilities, products, services communication and market responses that produce new and valued client and partner experiences.

Crucially, therefore, a brand is all about what it does, the actions

which will make a real difference, determine whether people accept and embrace the purpose and prove the deal is valuable. Don't just talk a good talk. Do things in the new way.

When the best of two cultures are brought together, the story can become even richer – if it's well told.

A powerful brand that gets all this right tells a captivating story, one that people want to hear and feel. When the best of two cultures are brought together, the story can become even richer – if it's well told.

The look, tone and icons of the newly merged organisation will visualise its purpose, identity and culture. It's a pride-booster. It's how brand creativity brings beauty to M&A, brings the new business to life and shares it with the world in an irresistible way.

Name, logo, colours and imagery are a focus of history, tradition and emotions. The new flag hoisted together is a visible symbol of newness and unity. It must be brilliantly designed. Health warning: passions around symbols can run exceptionally high!

venturethree has been brand adviser to challenging mergers. Brand can make the difference to their success or failure. We learnt that building M&A success requires a fresh and creative view of how the new company looks, speaks, walks and talks; of what it holds dear, believes in, acts on and starts up.

Above all, this is the time to express the new, the new shared ambition. It's what will electrify everyone for the future and get them working together towards it. 

This week, two of the highest profile and most progressive specialist insurance companies, XL and Catlin, are finalising their merger. They're combining to shape the way emerging technologies and future risks, (some of which can’t even be imagined yet), will be managed and covered.

We collaborated with them to navigate the risks and rapids of coming together as a single, unified and powerful brand: XL Catlin.

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