When M&A Make Brand and Reputation Collide

March 20, 2013

By: Betsy Neville

There is no time the collision between brand and reputation becomes more apparent than during a merger or split. What a company says and does during this delicate period of uncertainty can make or break the success of the transition for the near and long term.

This is a snapshot in time. When stakeholders inside and outside the company judge — based on their day-to-day experiences, through their observations, in talking with their managers, in viewing the actions of senior management.

They compare what’s said and presented about the aspired mission, vision, goals— and the stated plan to get there—with the reality of what they see and hear everyday. People “vote” with their experiences, deciding whether they buy the new reality, its viability and the value of getting behind it.

This comes to mind on the heels of a discussion with executives from a company who felt they could manage their transition from the outside in, issuing press releases and setting up briefings for their management with top tier national business media and their industry trades.

Meanwhile, their employees were posting to message boards and conversing on social media sites with their own version of the transition. A conversation external stakeholders heeded more than the neatly packaged narrative put forward by the company’s executives.

There’s no hiding in this environment for companies and their management. Many, however, do not grasp the inherent risks of inadequate management of authentically engaging their stakeholders – as the example above so ardently represents. If there’s ever a period of time when an organization needs to carry out its convictions to demonstrate its commitment to its stated goals – aligning promise with reality – this is it.

Betsy Neville is FleishmanHillard’s Reputation Practice Lead in North America. You can reach her at betsy.neville@fleishman.com.