From rapid growth to increased market share, mergers and acquisitions bring a multitude of strategic benefits for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Take, for example, the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon. Whole Foods continues to retain its culture while benefiting from aspects of Amazon’s culture and operations that are critical to compete in the grocery business, such as expertise in logistics, customer intelligence and agile decision making. Still in its early days, the marriage of these industry leaders appears to be creating positive customer value.

While the marriage of two companies may appear to have good synergies on paper, due to external factors like real estate and supply chain management, those factors aren’t enough. From my experience, external factors are rarely the cause of the demise of a brand during a merger or acquisition. Usually, the issue at hand is internal and, more specifically, an unsuccessful blending of company cultures. The Whole Foods acquisition is a case in point of the benefits of effectively marrying cultures and brand pillars in an acquisition.

Whether your business is a small startup or large corporation, your company culture and brand pillars are the set of values and attitudes that bond your employees together. In any business, your employees are your most valuable asset. They are your ambassadors who bring the brand experience to life by providing a service or creating a product that manifests your brand identity.

In order to ensure your culture is upheld and that these synergies across a system are maintained and fostered, here are my top five recommended tips to successfully integrate brand identities when undertaking a merger or acquisition.

1. Build leadership capabilities before a merger is expected.

The leadership team will be better equipped to handle the integration of a new company if it understands the importance of cultural alignment before the acquisition process starts. Your “chief people officer” or human resources leader needs a seat at the table during this due diligence, not after the deal closes.

2. Take the people-centric approach to due diligence.

When it comes to due diligence, you have to look at more than just financial statements. I recommend investing in a third-party engagement survey so you can truly understand what your future employees value and what their potential concerns may be.

You can also research online platforms job listing platforms to see how employees rank their employment experience. Look for over-arching trends across comments and sources; while a single comment shouldn’t be given too much priority, a consistent theme or trend should be considered credible. You can also gain valuable insights by engaging with employees as a customer in as many different locations and circumstances as possible.

3. Have a plan and be open-minded.

Just as you develop a plan to integrate service offerings and back-office systems, you also need to create a plan to integrate cultures. Think about ways you can measure employee engagement and incentivize the behaviors and values you want the post-merger organization to possess.

At the same time, it’s important to stay open-minded because the way your organization currently does things isn’t necessarily the best way to move forward. Usually, the greatest outcomes happen as a result of collaboration and merging the best of both organizations when it comes to processes and methodologies.

Read the full article by Trever Ackerman, Chief Marketing Officer of the manager of Elements Massage®, click here.

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