Creating a brand that everyone in an organization can get behind can be a tough challenge for CMOs. Creating one that unites two different organizations following a merger can be even tougher, as you have to satisfy plenty of stakeholders who had invested a lot of time, resources, and passion into the previous brands.

That's a challenge that Andrea Linehan, CMO of the freshly minted fintech company Zai, has been tackling, and she shared her experience with us on her first episode of CMO Diaries.

Now available as a write-up, read on for plenty of insights and advice for how CMOs can tackle branding, particularly in merger situations.

CMO Diaries | Merging brands: more than the sum of its parts
Andrea and her team have been hard at work creating a new brand to represent their recent merger, and she’s here to share her insights and processes for other CMOs who might have to do the same.

Andrea's background

Hi, Andrea, welcome to your first episode of CMO Diaries!

You've actually spoken with us before on our other show CMO Convos. But for people who aren't familiar with you, maybe you could introduce yourself?

Sure, I'm Andre Linehan. I am the CMO for a newly branded company called Zai. Under Zai, there is also the brand CurrencyFair, globally based with offices in APAC, EMEA, and soon to be North America. We specialize in integrated financial services for digitally native and non-native businesses.

How marketers can stop worrying and learn to love Finance
Andrea Linehan, CMO of CurrencyFair, joins us to discuss why it’s important for marketing teams to stop worrying and learn to love their finance departments.

Background on the merger

It’s good that you brought up newly branded things, as that's what we're talking about today. The last time we spoke, you were just the CMO of CurrencyFair. So, do you want to talk us through what this merger meant for you, how did it come about and how did you approach the merger?

Sure, A bit of a background on how we got to the merger in the first place. CurrencyFair was always very much a B2C-focused FinTech. We decided a couple of years ago that we would pivot more towards B2B and B-to-enterprize.

When I was brought on in January of 2020, it was to help preserve our consumer book of business, grow it organically, but more importantly, grow our B2B and enterprise proposition. So actually, last year, we were in the earlier phases of developing out CurrencyFair enterprise.

We had also been out fundraising. And we ended up talking to Standard Chartered Bank. It just so happened that only a couple of months before they had invested in an Australian FinTech called Assembly Payments.

Assembly Payments were focused on the domestic market. They were essentially a CurrencyFair enterprise, but several years ahead. So, Standard Chartered Bank looked at what Assembly Payments had. They looked at CurrencyFair, which had a global footprint of banking partners and a suite of products.  

They realized that if you actually put these two businesses together, you could accelerate the growth by several years. So, that's what we did. And that's what happened. We announced the merger in April of 2021. We officially closed it in September when we got approval from the regulator. So, it has been a big merging year.

Branding during a merger

So, from a brand perspective, what did you need to think about when it came to the mergers? Was it just a case of mashing the brands together? Were you looking to maintain the integrity of certain brands and maintain certain things about certain brands? What was in your head when you were thinking about how you were going to handle this?

Yeah, it was a really interesting, exciting process because there was so much to think about. You had two very established companies. Assembly Payments were very well known, had built up brand equity within Australia, and they were a bit of a darling of the FinTech sector there.

Then you had CurrencyFair, who had global brand awareness and equity, but it was very much in the B2C space. We really had to look at both brands and decide what it is that we're looking to achieve for the future. And this actually came right back to this not being about the name or that extrinsic part of the brand. Let's go back to the core, and let's actually look at the intrinsic part of the brand and start from there.

I'm a big proponent of the minimal viable brand approach, which is the sister to the minimal viable product approach. The real important elements of a brand are your values, your mission, your vision, your positioning statement, and your character as a business. All of those things.

As two businesses merging together, we had to have shared values, a shared vision, a shared mission. So, that meant taking the best of what both businesses had and taking representatives from Assembly Payments and CurrencyFair from lots of different departments together.

We had a rebrand Task Force. We went through months of workshops, putting posts on mural boards and just really thrashing it out. We were very fortunate to be led by a guy named Adam Turner, who is a human behavior expert. He guided us through that process.

We really had to dig deep, because we all came with different expectations and ideas of what we wanted this newly merged company to look like. But it really proved to be an amazing exercise for us to come together as teams.

Yes, we did end up coming out with our values, our vision, our mission. But from an actual team merging and cultural perspective, it was probably one of the most powerful things we could have done. And we got involved in these merger negotiations while COVID was going on. We hadn't actually met each other.

And even to this day, we still actually haven't met each other because of the travel restrictions. So, it made it even more important for us to go through this exercise. Once we did that, we looked at our values and our vision. We looked at CurrencyFair, and we looked at Assembly Payments. We considered whether these brand names really represented what it was that we were becoming, and what we were building.

We looked at the Assembly Payments piece in particular. The first thing we thought was, “we're not just a payments technology company anymore.” We were building fully integrated financial services, so the bit about payments didn’t actually fit anymore.

Remove the payments bit, and you're left with Assembly. We really teased out that word assembly– the building blocks, and assembly of lots of different technologies and API's. It does make sense. But it also conjures up an assembly line, which is something that's really rigid, strong, and isn't agile.

And the irony was one of the values we had landed on was agility. So, it was a very easy decision then because we’d realized that the assembly line is the opposite of agile. That didn’t fit our brand anymore. We had to make a business decision because we knew we were going to preserve the consumer part of our business.

And even though we won't be investing heavily in that, we will be growing organically. We decided to maintain that as the fundraising brand for the consumer element of it. Really, it came down to what we want the overarching group brand to be. Our values, our vision, our mission, all this really is really important stuff. That was months of work.

We then brought that to a brand agency in Bangkok called Brand New Day. I told them the essence of who we are, our DNA. We asked them to help us find that identity that represents that. They took everything that we'd built to date and they went away and they came back with lots of different names, lots of different themes, and eventually, we landed on Zai.

The most fabulous thing about it was the consensus because we had gone through all of that work during the workshops. Coming together as teams, it really felt like something we owned together. It was the first real thing that we built together as a merged team and it was really powerful. Once we got the name over the line and we made sure we could get it registered, the next piece of work was to roll out this minimal viable brand.

A full-fledged brand takes a long time to roll out, but we just didn't have the luxury of time. So, we just did enough to get the interim set of short-form brand guidelines. We re-skinned Assembly Payment’s existing website, did a bit of a cleanup of the copy, changed URL, and did a sweep of all the social media. We did all the surface-level stuff to allow us to get out there and start building brand awareness around the design name but, more importantly, to allow our commercial team to have their digital shop and anchor that they needed.

This is when the real work starts because we have our employer brand, we have all the things that are happening under that typical iceberg analogy. The above water tip was out there. And you can see that with our logo, our brand is everywhere. But actually, it's going to be the next six to twelve months where we really embed all of that intrinsic stuff, which is what's going to create the success of the company.

Aligning your teams through branding

Yeah, because branding is not just important for how people perceive you externally, it can be very powerful for how things work internally, aligning the partners behind the different values.

Going all the way back to those foundational things as a shared team is probably a very effective exercise – introducing yourselves to each other, getting used to working together, getting down to these very basic methods. Was that in your head when you took that approach? Or was it just something that you definitely wanted to do right from the outset, go back to this foundational-level branding?

Oh, without a doubt. I’m fortunate enough to have had a lot of experience in developing brands. One of the first experiences I had of doing the minimum viable brand approach was my last Fintech startup. I joined as employee number one. I remember meeting the two co-founders. They were incredibly dynamic, young accountants who had a really incredible vision for this FinTech.

It was a peer-to-peer lending platform, and the company at the time was called Our Money. I just said to the guys, a company called Our Money is never going to work. I'm gonna have awful trouble trying to position that proposition. But we were very young and we didn't have a budget.  

They asked how I was going to rebrand, how I was going to go about it. We had six weeks to do a rebrand, and I made sure the lion's share of that was spent on us going through workshops, and actually pulling out what the real character and personality and values and vision that these two guys had.

Because once we had that answer, we were able to go to agencies and ask them to depict this. What does this visually look like? It's so much easier. And we did. And not only did we manage to turn around a rebrand, we were able to re-skin the platform. It was clunky. I remember the web development team just being in tears at what we needed to do, but it was worthwhile.

More importantly, the decisions we made during those workshops informed who our employees were and who we partnered with. I mean, we left money on the table and said no to investors, because we knew that they didn't align with us as a brand. They didn’t align with our value system, what we want to achieve.

And when you have the stuff defined, and you're so sure of it, when it comes to making those kinds of decisions, there is no grey area anymore. It's actually pretty black and white. And you can do that very steadfastly. Actually, Eric Fulweiler formerly of 11:FS, put out a post about the very same thing recently.

He said no to a very big potential customer who wanted them to try and promote fizzy drinks to kids. Eric and his team just said, “no, that completely goes against what we stand for.” To be able to do that as a young new company, to have the balls to be able to kind of say no,  that's all down to the steadfastness of his value system and the company's value system. And that's where the power of your brand really stems from.

It was a very interesting one. It’s not just standing up for your values, it's a great statement to others as well, that you have these values. He could have just left that money on the table and not posted about it, but by actually mentioning it and making clear that it was because of the values they had, then that's going to be very important moving forward.

Millennials and Gen-Z are quite passionate about supporting and working with certain companies based on brand values. Was that something you had in mind when it came to develop your brand values for the merger or was it something you kept internal? Or was it just something you kept within the internal group?

There's no doubt some of their positioning statements are a red thread combing through our copy. It’s everywhere on a website and it’s part of how we communicate.  But we're not interested in stating our values on the front page of our website. I believe that every day we’re living our values. Our values are humanized.

What does that mean to me? To me, that means that even though we're a technology company, it's all about people, and everybody touts this all the time. But as we're developing our employer brand under employee value proposition, it stems from an absolute place of being humanized. This means empathy and really understanding what it means for an individual to come and work with us.

It's not just about the hours they're in work. They don't stop being a parent or a carer or an artist during work hours, just like they don't stop being a designer or a product manager outside in their personal time. These things intertwine. And I think it's really important to know that that blurred line between work and life will always remain blurred. And we need to account for that.

So, all of this feeds into how we design our policies or company employee policies, or working from home policies. That's the level that unionized value should be infiltrating. It’s not just a nice filler on page two on the website, it is so much deeper than that. And we always need to be checking that the people we partner with fit with our values. How do they treat their employees? Working with outsourced technology or customer service operations around the world, we have to ask, “do they treat their employees the same way we treat ours?” It’s so much deeper than just a nice line on the website.

You got to walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk when it comes to brand values. Speaking of the human element and employees in particular, internal brand education is gonna be very important. It's important when it comes to just rebranding a singular brand, or just onboarding when you've got an established brand.

But when you've got two different companies and you've got employees who are very, very established within the brand, they know how the brand functions, they know what the values are, to suddenly say,  “Oh, well, we've got new ones. And you're going to work with people who have been working with different brand values and different brand concepts.” That must be a challenge. So, how extensive is that brand re-education?  Is it just a couple of workshops? How long is the process?

Really interesting question. And actually, it wasn't so much that we came up with new values when we really looked at it. And when we actually looked at Assembly Payments and CurrencyFair, we actually already had a lot of shared values.

So, it was more an evolution of our shared values, so it didn't feel like a big change. We didn’t just scrap what was there and start afresh by any means. And that's why it was so important to have representatives from across the business from different departments, different levels, and from both sides.  

It very much was this really formidable true merged exercise. I think that's the only way to say it. It wasn't a case of, “let's take half of theirs and half of ours and just sit them beside each other and hope that they sit neatly, it was much more transformative than that.”

But what I will say though, and it was definitely something I was really, really conscious and mindful of was: we were keeping the CurrencyFair brand and that was going to be for a sub-brand, representing our consumer market. This made complete sense commercially, as well as from a brand equity perspective.

But It did then obviously create a situation where it felt like Assembly Payments were losing their name and potentially their identity for us to merge. There was a journey that we had to go on, and we were very conscious that there should be no alienation of anybody throughout this process.

It's really an emotive thing. The Assembly team has had a phenomenal team – really loyal, passionate, capable, the energy's amazing. The last thing we wanted to do was dilute or impact that in a negative way. With any merger, people will leave. They left from Assembly, and they left from CurrencyFair throughout this year, and there were lots of different reasons– merger-related, not merger related, and that is very natural.

But those that have stayed are really excited about the future for Zai, and the evolution of it. The reality is, when you get involved with a start-up on a scale-up, the pace of change is absolutely enormous. You'll get excited about the change, and you're ready to either get on that training and keep going to the next destination or you'll move over to another challenge. And that's really a typical merger.

But I think that was probably the most delicate situation. I wanted to make sure that we were respectful of what we built culture-wise, brand-wise, identity-wise. And I believe we're doing a good job with that. But there's still lots more to do.

There's always no rest for the wicked. No rest for marketers either. So, that's kind of like an overview of how you've been approaching the merger and the rebrand as a whole.

CMO Diaries | Rebrand’s done, but no rest for the wicked
Yoni Solomon is back with another CMO Diaries to take us through everything you need to track once a rebrand is out the door, and how you can utilize one as the foundation for future projects.

The role of the CMO when rebranding

Let's talk a bit more about the practicalities of a CMO’s role in these kinds of processes. How much do you have to pay attention to all the little minor details? Are you a general looking at the map and guiding people? Or are you there on the frontline, writing copy and getting in on all the minor aspects of the rebrand?

Probably the latter, and I don't mean that from a micromanaging perspective. I'm a CMO, which makes me a generalist, but I’m a T-shaped marketer. The T part of me is branding, that is my background.

So, to be honest, I relished this exercise, and going through this, my team was absolutely phenomenal. The project manager, my project management experts, digital experts – they all looked after those facets which are deep within themselves. And I guided and provided my experience. Our designer would be rolling his eyes at me because I'm terrible with technologies when it comes to using any kind of design tools. I'm in Paint, that’s my thing.  That's the level I love to play around with. But I was able to impart my many years of experience, a lot of it painful learning as well as fabulous learning.

But I get a real buzz from it. Whenever you go through a project like this, you know it’s highly unlikely we’re ever going to work on something of this scale again. It's highly unlikely we're going to be doing any big rebrand again now throughout our time here in the company. So, if I was ever going to impart and transfer knowledge and experience with an exercise, this was going to be my time, and that meant absolutely getting down into the details.

I still managed to learn so much throughout this process. You get to a point where you think you know it all, and you've been there and done that. And then all of a sudden there is this new situation. I personally got a lot from the exercise.

You mentioned that you didn't have the luxury of time for certain things. Who determined the time parameters for this rebrand to get done? Was it something you decided with new management that had come in?

With me having had experience doing these in the early days, I had to make the recommendation of whether we do a rebrand at all. So, that was the first set of recommendations that I had to make. That was all built on assessing the brand equity, what we would lose, what we would gain, and what it would mean for the future.

What would it even mean for future commercial opportunities? For instance, what would we do with the CurrencyFair side of the business? Did we want to eventually spin it off, sell it? But if we rebranded, then that makes that more complicated.

So, there are a lot of longer-term considerations that inform the recommendation I made to go the route that we went. Also, obviously having been through the minimum viable brand process before, I had a really good sense of how long that would take.

I managed to do it before in six weeks. But that's very easy when you're leading a small number of people who need to be involved in the decision process. Post-COVID, you’re dealing with timezones going across Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and Ireland. Add that in, and a number of other things, like just the merger itself happening, and also only having those golden hours for meetings, one week passes, another week passes, and all of a sudden it’s taking several months just to get going.

The lion's share of the work was, how do you get 12 people onto a zoom for a two-hour slot when you're working with these time zones. That was actually the biggest challenge. I hadn't even anticipated how challenging that would be. So, what I thought would be a two-month turnaround was a four-month turnaround. Thankfully, the stars aligned because we really wanted to get Zai out very close to when we actually got approval by the regulator. And thankfully, there were only several weeks in the difference. And actually, we managed to launch Zai the week before Singapore FinTech week, which was something that we were participating in, in a number of different facets. So, it actually worked out quite well. I had six weeks in my mind, and four or five months later, we got there.

Beyond the rebrand

So, what's next?  You mentioned there's still work to do.  Now that rebrand’s out there in the world, what are the ongoing processes that need to be done? What do you have planned in the next year? What is the timeframe for the roadmap looking like?

One thing I will say, imagine how long it would take us to get here if we hadn't had such a stringent project plan around getting to that. And that was one of my product marketers who led on that, and absolutely every single component was accounted for.

We had an excellent rhythm then amongst all the different contributors, and we're doing the same now for others. Now phase two, we’ve re-skinned Assembly Payments’ website. if you go to, it is Assembly Payment’s website, just re-skinned with our brands. Now, it's a really decent rescan. But we now have to build out the proper website, which is going to be at least a three to four-month build. We really want to build something that's going to act as our global home for everything that we need to do as a company.
And that's just one piece of it. The second piece is our own marketing technology stack. HubSpot, for instance, you know, we now need to add Zai on to HubSpot and start building out all of the workflows. Any of Assembly Payments’ assets, we need to rebrand all of those. We need to change the tone of all of the content that has ever existed from Assembly Payments.

There are a lot of pieces that don't stop us going to market, but they still need to be built. Externally, people might not really notice all that work that’s going on, but we know what's going on.  We're able to carry over a certain amount of SEO value from the 70 Payments website, but we have a lot to do now in terms of rebuilding that SEO presence.

It’s all the practicalities of this stuff, the detail of this stuff, and how long it actually takes. We'll be working on this definitely for the next six months, there's no doubt. And then there's the employer brand piece. That's the next exercise. We're just about to start work on a three-month build of our intranet. As part of that, we need to go and build out that employee value proposition, our employer brand. As an employer, it doesn’t just stop at, “here are our three values. You know, there's a very bespoke workshop that needs to go around that. We are global at FinTech, so we need to have a global mindset. We need to make sure that we're serving beyond just the Irish, Singapore, and the Australian market, which is where our core offices are. We need to design for employees that we're going to have in the states in the UAE, in Hong Kong. It's much deeper than just let's design our careers page on the website.

Yeah, it sounds absolutely exhausting. So, when do you know you've done a good job?  When are you going to take stock? You said you're not going to be doing anything like this anytime soon, but say you were going to approach another large scale project, like there's a big cross-company project, obviously, you want to take lessons you've learned from this process, when are you going to take stock in order to look at what to do better in the future?

Great question. We actually did that exercise after phase one. A few days after we externally launched Zai, we got together as a team, and we just did a bit of a retrospective of what we had done, what we would have done better, what we wouldn't do again. We did all of that. Because we were running straight into phase two, it meant we were immediately able to apply those learnings then, and just scratch off a bunch of things that we had already added to phase two.

With a lot of things it was a case of saying, “that's a phase two thing.” Particularly when we were down to the wire, there were some things that we had to sacrifice, practical things that had to be relegated to phase two.

Even though we now have rolled out all the new email signatures for everybody across the business, there are still people who are working off their CurrencyFair email address, and there are so many payment email addresses. We had to sacrifice getting everybody on to their email address in order to go live with the new brand before Singapore FinTech week.

There are things that you learn that are going to take a little bit longer than the technical aspect of doing it. That was a bit more of a mammoth exercise than we'd originally allowed for in the project. Scoping out these pieces in more depth would have been a big learning experience for us, but we're not going to let that derail us. We have an interim plan.

Everybody's now using the uniform email signature. Regardless of which email address that you email from, there's no confusion around people who are engaging with the UI, so there's ways that you can get around it. You’ve definitely got to think about the hacks along the way.

In particular with FinTechs, it's that minimal viable approach. You really got to do that. And you're never going to get perfection. Because we'll be working on this brand forever. There'll always be tweaking, improving, but that's probably more from a delivery perspective. if I was really to measure success, I started to see people without thinking about it, living those values, talking the talk. It wasn't just words, but really showing our values in the way that they treat people.

They’re operating in a way that really represents those values. I know we've really achieved the rebrand, and that's what I'm looking out for. I'm already starting to see it with my own team because we've been living and breathing this now for six months. By osmosis, it does eventually infiltrate you. How are we going to do that over zoom while working remotely?

Well, first thing I'm getting on a plane to Australia, hopefully in the next week and a half if the border control will let me in. I'll come in with my brand head on, and I’ll be nourishing and nurturing all of that amongst the team over there.

I’ll be there to help them on that journey, helping them to understand what they need to be able to really live it and breathe it and have fun with it. There are a lot of ways you can have fun with it.  Things like, “ okay, what's our new nickname going to be?”  We had fun coming up with nicknames for everybody on our team. Everybody came up with new potential employee nicknames. Some of them were hilarious, absolutely hilarious, and we’re doing our final voting this week. So by Friday, we'll know what our new nicknames are. All of the banter that you can have around these things, all these little things are part of the employer brand. The social aspect of work really helps to embed it. It’s not all processes and project plans.

Speaking of the fun stuff, when is the time to celebrate completing this project? You're potentially off to Australia, are you going to the party on Bondi Beach?

It has been happening in some ways. In Melbourne, about a week and a half ago, we had a bit of an internal launch. We kitted out this really gorgeous place with tons of branded balloons to really make it real. And it was the first time a lot of the team in Australia had actually seen each other in person for months and months.

So, that was kind of the start of it. And you know, now we're coming up to Christmas party season, we'll be celebrating it as those opportunities arise. But I've clicked a glass or two several times.  Any chance I get, there's a cheers to Zai.  We missed being able to do a really significant brand launch where it wasn't just about everybody internally. We did miss out on that because of COVID, but we'll just have to do it another time.

Uniting your team

Yeah, because those kinds of things aren’t just frivolous, they are important.  These kinds of team bonding exercises, where you actually go out and have fun, are when you really start to get to know the people you're working with. That's going to be especially valuable for an emergency situation. Especially considering the last 18 months, we should be looking forward to celebrating these milestones.

The nuance gets even more complex, because we are now Zai. And we're growing from 170 people to 450 people in the next couple of years. Everybody we're hiring from the last month onwards is coming in as Zai.  You have this whole cohort who were Zai from the beginning and then you have the old CurrentsFair and the old Assembly people. And even before Assembly Payments, they were something called Promised Pay.

You have this real complexity of people with different journeys that they've come on. And there’s this mishmash that actually really makes up the depth and the history and rich work culture.

We made a point of really celebrating that. One of the first pieces of content we put out when we launched was The Story of Zai, which actually goes right back and tells the story from 2010 for when CurrencyFair originally started, the original founders. We made a timeline, and we talked about all the people who were involved in the journey along the way, the different founders who were involved, the different leaders, and brought it right up to today.

We're going to take that story and make it an ongoing story. What's something that we've been pushing as the story of Zai. We're by no means this clean slate. We are absolutely celebrating history. It takes a village, you know? It's the same for startups and there has been more than a village involved in getting CurrencyFair and Assembly Payments to this desired place. And, it's important to recognize that.

Who are the most important people in helping you manage this entire process? Who should other CMOs look to within their own organizations to be leading the charge if they need to approach something similar?

That’s a great question. To continue with that analogy, it really does take a village. And having buy-in from the leadership team was obviously the first hurdle to get over. That leadership team in itself was made up of representatives from Assembly Payments and CurrencyFair.

And then you had a board, a new board, with a new significant shareholder being involved. It definitely started there. In terms of getting that buy-in, we had to present not only the recommendation but also the rationale and the logic behind it from a commercial value perspective.

But also we had to show we had the capacity and capability to do it. It needed to start there. If these leadership team members from Assembly and CurrencyFair couldn't come together and be something new, it was never going to trickle its way down throughout the company. We needed the leaders first, we needed to get them on board, get them behind why we're doing this.

Because it was going to be up to each of the leadership team members to sell that story, to sell the vision of why we're doing this, and why this is a really exciting thing for us to do. They needed to help resolve the fears and uncertainty that people were feeling because of the merger. It really all started there.

When it came to the actual task force, that had to be representatives from across the business. It was about looking for those champions as well. And regardless of their perspective, whether they are in support of the rebrand or not, because we need to hear all aspects.

It was really important that we had these people in the task force that weren’t convinced. That was really important because we needed to hear that. That was definitely the second most important group of people who needed to come together.

And then obviously, the marketing team itself. I couldn't have done it on my own. I had an epic project manager in Tatianna. I mean, she absolutely kept us on dime, and just managed all of those micro pieces that could easily have been missed and tripped us up  

It was a lot to be thinking about, particularly from the legal perspective. That's an exercise that can take months, making sure that we did enough to lower the overall risk so that we were able to say, “ Okay, we've assessed the risk going ahead with this name.”  

Knowing that there were potential objectors in these countries, there was a whole exercise around that that we needed to do. We had Darren, who was our designer and our head of content marketing. But as every week passed, more members of the marketing team then got involved. Our digital team got involved.

When we were developing the brand or getting a bit further along, we needed to look at those assets and depictions. How's that going to translate to mobile? What is that going to mean? How is that going to translate to mobile? You need the technical people to come in and check all of this stuff.

Three lessons on merger branding

Oh, kudos to them. It sounds like they've done something really impressive in the timescale. Maybe you want to break down the three main lessons you've learned from this process, and what can CMOS take away from what you've learned?

I would definitely advocate for the minimal viable brand approach. It really helps to orientate and really figure out what is the most important piece to get done, because it is such a mammoth task depending on how developed the company already is. For a rebrand, there's loads of content online describing what that is and the steps you can follow. That would be the first bit. The second is really your timeline and managing expectations around this. You will have a lot of stakeholders who are very invested in this, so you have to carefully manage expectations. Really make sure that all the stakeholders are coming on the journey. Take the time, map it out to your stakeholders.

We're marketers, we know what it means to map out for stakeholders and think about personas. Do this as your internal exercise and think about the impact that will have on the different people. And that will help to preempt some of the objections you might have along the way. Just be ready for them or deal with them before they actually arise.

And then the third one is probably cliche, but have a bit of fun. Some of the names we came up with, for instance, weren't realistic, we did them just to have a bit of fun. It may have just naturally built a rapport within the brand. Ironically, because we enjoyed the experience and working together on it, it just meant that we had a really positive sentiment towards what came out at the end of it.

We didn't think, “oh, thank God that project’s over.” Really, once we came out with the name of the brand, that was only the start of everything. We needed to love it, and feel good about it, and be proud of this. That's so important. We're going to live with it for many years to come. We want to love it.

Are you tackling merger branding as a CMO? Maybe you've got advice from your own experiences. Join the conversation on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel!