My company announced a merger with another of similar size yesterday, so one of the tasks I'll be involved in over the next couple of years will be re-branding. As you'd understand, in a merger re-brand means more than tweaking the logo and dreaming up a new catchline. It's a baby and bath water job - clean sheet of paper. Or is it?
The concept of starting from scratch is a brand dude's dream. But when you have two companies coming together - one with over 60 years of history and the other close to 80 - you're never going to be starting from scratch.
If you believe brand starts from within the company, then your framework is clearly defined by culture. The first task is to research where the two organisational cultures share common values and where they differ. Hopefully, there's some crossover where you can lay the foundations for your new brand. If there is no commonality, the risk of failure in the merger will be much higher and brand will likely be the least of you problems.
Then there's the external perceptions of your two organisations. How do customers perceive them? Suppliers? Industry partners? Media? How do you project your brand into the marketplace in a way that will not cause dissonance within one or both of the customer bases?
I know of companies that have dreamed up new brand names and positioning over a few good reds at lunch time. Some are lucky and hit the spot. But I hope as I progress this process, those that approve budgets set plenty aside for preliminary internal and external research and market testing among our customers.