How to rebrand successfully whilst undergoing a merger or acquisition…

Challenging times often result in changes in business ownership such as mergers, acquisitions, and demergers.

Challenging times often result in changes in business ownership such as mergers, acquisitions, and demergers. We expect to see more of these in 2023; PWC reported in January that we’re in a sweet spot for merger and acquisition (M&A) deals with 60% of corporate leaders revealing that they would not delay a deal in 2023, despite the economic climate.

For brand owners managing the brand development and change, it is crucial to ensure business stability internally and externally. When it comes to M&As, there are several possibilities: the new company may develop a completely new brand, keep a portfolio of brands, or there might be an interim position – a lot depends on the brand equity and reputation involved and the sensitivity of the market sector.

We have worked with a number of large corporates on their M&A brand strategy; one example is National Grid on the rebrand of Western Power Distribution which it had acquired in early 2022. Whilst National Grid was already a household name, the rebrand significantly extended its brand footprint – it is now the largest electricity transmission and distribution business in the UK, with a strengthened focus on business and residential ‘end customers’.

National Grid needed a partner who could help them work through the high level brand strategy they would need to deploy to ensure a smooth transition as well as the finer detail of the brand touchpoints.

The rebrand included evolving National Grid’s visual identity and tone of voice to fully reflect the distribution business’s operations.

The communications strategy was phased over five months, informing customers the name change was coming and then that the name had changed. We are proud that the campaign has landed so well with customers, with high rates of understanding of the name change as well as the benefits behind the merger for customers. 81% said that the campaign was informative and that they understood the key messages. 83% also said that they understood the name change and brand transition.

The work has been shortlisted by the Transform Awards in the ‘Best Corporate Rebrand Following a Merger or Acquisition’ and ‘Best External Stakeholder Relations During a Brand Development Project‘ categories.

The awards recognise excellence in transformative branding that results in high business growth – in the last seven years, we’ve won 17 Transform awards.

In addition to this we have also created the new branding for National Gas which launched on 1 February following National Grid selling a 60% equity interest in its UK gas transmission and metering business to a consortium of long-term infrastructure investors. The new identity reflects the transition in the sector to cleaner forms of gas, such as hydrogen, and supports the once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a clean energy future.

WPA Pinfold