One of the best opportunities you will have to assess your brand, enhance its strengths and diminish its weaknesses is during a merger or acquisition.

If you are the acquiring entity with the most well understood and compelling brand and if the acquired company fits within or extends the current understanding of your brand, then lucky you.

If not, “ Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do”.

The starting point for reaching a decision is always a thorough examination of the market positions and perceptions of both brands. In most cases the acquired entity or merger partner (if you prefer) is absorbed into the acquirer’s brand. Simple enough.

It can happen that the acquired company has the more or equally resonant brand. Maybe this will relate to size, the smaller faster ship being more exciting than the bigger, but slower battleship. If so, you have to face facts about what is in the best interests of the combination. It may be this situation calls for a sub-branding approach that doesn’t change anything, but takes advantage of marketing and operating leverage or provides capital for the acquired brand to grow.

A merger is a great time to look forward to what can be. It should be like summiting a mountain and finding a great vista ahead. You should describe this vista to your staff and customers and let them see what you see.

Describing the new, combined brand will help inoculate you against the inevitable question that arises, “But what about me”? This can be inspired by your competitors who know that there is a haze during a merger period where everybody suddenly looks inward, even putting off decisions. Remember, the market isn’t waiting around for you to “make the merger work”.

A new brand, intentionally articulated can actually be the most exciting part of the process, as it will exude excitement and purpose. It can also keep you from creating a brand along the way by failing to do anything. A really bad bet is to let the market or your competitors brand you.