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Interview: New corporate design after M&A

Theresa Spiller
May 27, 2022

Corporate design is often a primary concern in rebranding. We conducted an interview with K16, one of Germany’s leading communications agencies for professional B2B and corporate presentations, to take a close look at what to consider in a new corporate design and the importance of presentations in the context of a rebranding.

What are the opportunities and risks of a new or adapted corporate design?

"Corporate design encompasses the visual appearance and external perception of a brand. It conveys a uniform image of the company and strengthens recognition value in the public and vis-à-vis competitors. The more uniformly the appearance is conveyed, the more strongly the image is communicated."

"For a successful rebranding, the most important thing is to define the goals. What do we as a company want to achieve by changing our brand? There can be different reasons: a merger of companies, a repositioning of the brand, identified image problems, does the product no longer work? It can be a great opportunity to query customer perceptions and to integrate them in the revision of the brand."

"In a merger or acquisition, multiple brands collide. A smaller brand could gain stronger visibility in the market if it is retained. However, the investment must be considered. If you keep both brands, you also need to consider two brand budgets. A corporate identity requires maintenance. A rebrand requires investment to build and establish a brand, financially and in time."

When should the corporate design merely be refreshed and when should it be completely revised?

"As a rule, companies refresh their brand over a period of seven to ten years. If necessary, this means adapting the logo, the colors, and the typography and imagery. Current trends in communication can also play a role."

"A brand can lose its magic over the years and may appear old-school. Self-identification with one’s own brand becomes weaker. The company may become older and more serious, and the previous image loses its persuasive power. The competition and the environment change. But essential components continue to function. Apple, for example, changed its apple logo several times over the decades."

"When considering whether a design refresh or a completely new rebranding makes sense, it is always necessary to check what works and what no longer works. Leaving aside the legal aspect that individual parts of the company no longer belong to the original organization, if a brand is uniform and well understood and the brand identity is still viable, a completely new brand structure makes no sense. Also, investment must always be taken into account."

corporate design Rebranding M&A mergers  acquisitions

How do corporate identity and corporate design relate to each other?

"A company can be compared with a person. In social psychology, sympathy is a core factor. What influences perception so that someone is perceived as likeable? This can also be applied to organizations. When it comes to the appearance of a company, we speak of corporate design. If the manner of communication or action is included, then the focus turns to identity: corporate identity."

"Visually, however, identity starts with colors, typography, and design. Colors have a very strong, emotional power with an associative effect. Traditionally, the colors pink or rose tend to be associated with girls and light blue with boys. But language is also a very important component: how does a company speak to its target groups? Serious or cheeky? Flowery or technical? Tonality is derived from identity and, in combination with the corporate design, shapes the perception of the company."

"If corporate identity is conveyed consistently, credibly, and clearly across all touchpoints - and corporate design makes a decisive contribution to this - positive brand and communication experiences are created for customers. The perceived positioning is solidified. The design should therefore be memorable so that the company is properly seen and understood. Great brands have taken a long time to gain recognition."

12 Corporate Design Management Success Factors- Free Download

What should you look for when planning and implementing a new corporate design?

"For one thing, the relevant channels must be considered. The logo, typography, and colors must work in all channels: on the website, on the cell phone or even the smart watch, possibly also in apps, in advertising campaigns and posters, even in the interior of the premises. Any claims and the handling of a figurative mark must also be addressed."

"Budget planning and investment security are crucial. It ’does not make sense to work on many topics at the same time and eventually run out of money. Certainly, time also plays an important role. The brand team should set deadlines and milestones with clear priorities. This is certainly a project management issue. Unfortunately, necessary decision-making processes are often neglected, which can lead to many time delays."

"A style guide helps to define and document design messages based on strategic guard rails and also to transport them to others. It creates a foundation for your design. If you ’do not document your brand, every time you do marketing, you’ll start over and ask yourself: what was that again? How did we do it then? Other channels may be used over time, for which additional, external service providers are used. They will be enabled with a style guide to transport the brand in a consistent manner."

K16 brand Logo Rebranding M&A mergers  acquisitions

What role do documents and especially presentations play in rebranding?

"Content consistency in strategic communication and consulting is crucial. In many client interactions, companies tend to put good design before good content, especially in the early stages of a project. No matter who represents and communicates the company, in what way and with what kind of materials, they should always reflect the brand. Inconsistent content and inconsistent application of a brand in documents like presentations come across as unprofessional at best, and brand-damaging at worst. Uniformity and consistency, both internally and externally, create trust and credibility and build a brand's image."

Why is it so important for presentations to be consistent and corporate design compliant?

"The vast majority of sales meetings still take place with the help of presentations. Many presentations to investors, HR strategies, or press conferences are based on PowerPoint. All these interactions are also about representing the brand."

"Presentations are therefore a very important function when it comes to image stamping in presence, and must definitely be taken into account in brand design. Of course, the website is usually the gateway for customers looking for something. Web content is usually maintained centrally and therefore corresponds to the current design specifications. But when potential customers or partners are looking for personal contact, the corporate communications or marketing departments themselves rarely conduct the initial meeting, but rather the sales or specialist departments. And their task is to convince and inspire. So, it is important to maintain the first impression from the website or other media in order to create a brand experience in a sustainably memorable brand world. If the presentation and the contact reflect exactly what the other touchpoints promise, then the brand positioning is consistent and the communication convincing."

Relevance of presentations in corporate design Rebranding M&A mergers und acquisitions

How can you ensure that a new corporate design is accepted and used within the company? Especially in Microsoft Office?

"In the best case, employees are integrated into a brand relaunch at an early stage - from strategy development to idea development and implementation. Participation strengthens identification. This can take place individually in very different depths and in various formats. A brand only achieves its effectiveness through meaningful significance."

"The design should be understood and seen correctly by the employees on the inside. Only in this way can employees communicate the brand correctly. Some companies even prohibit the rasterization of their brand color or the addition of customer logos to position their brand in a more valuable way. A manual or style guide helps to document essential rules so that they can be understood and implemented. Town hall meetings or Q&A sessions or a task force to answer questions are useful. But training is always helpful, especially in the Office environment. This is because the new Office templates may contain new, technical functions. The old familiar files are no longer valid. Therefore, it is also fundamentally important to support colleagues in the transfer of existing documents."

Interview partners K16:
Michaela Kapalla, Strategic Consulting and Creation
Thomas Lakiewicz, Senior Art Director
David Solbach, Director Strategy

Mergers and Aquisitions were at a record high in 2021. Thus, the importance of a successful rebranding process after M&A is rising. Check out how empower® rebranding solutions can make rebranding easier.

Rebranding in M&A whitepaper

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