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Branding a merged business

Industry News

The process can have many hurdles.

Kristen Hampshire | April 5, 2012

Branding is a tough name game when companies merge. How do you assure customers that they’re getting the service they always appreciated after the name changes? When Jed Taylor and Bill McWilliams merged their companies, Missouri Mowing and Columbia Turf, they needed a new name that described their comprehensive service menu.
    
Mowing and turf were too specific—that left out design/build, irrigation and snow and ice services. The decision to keep one of the companies’ names was off the table. So the owners did some brainstorming, McWilliams suggested Columbia LandCare, and the name stuck.
    
“We wanted to hit home that we are not just a turf company, and we are not just mowing,” says Taylor, who heads the company’s design/build and snow and ice divisions. “We do so much more than cut grass and fertilize your grass, so that was a big message we needed to get across.”
    
To communicate the new brand, and highlight the services the company offers, the owners needed a way to market separate services while maintaining consistency in the way the company name was being delivered to the public. So they chose a tagline: Keeping it green and growing. And they decided on a theme logo that is slightly altered for each service division.

The message is cohesive yet customized.
    
“If you glanced at a Columbia Turf truck vs. a Columbia Irrigation truck and didn’t look closely, you would think it’s the same [logo], but it gets the point across that they are separate divisions and they are operating that way,” Taylor says.     
But a logo is not enough to get the word out about a new brand. Columbia TurfCare spends about $50,000 on marketing, and dollars mostly go toward radio and print advertisements. “We want to really get our brand in people’s minds,” Taylor says.
    
Here’s how Columbia LandCare accomplishes that.
•    Focus on a name. Your company name should say who you are and what you do. Don’t leave customers guessing. Choosing a new name—Columbia LandCare— for the company was especially necessary after adding an irrigation company to the mix.
•    Tell your story. Testimonial advertisements are an effective way to give people a true taste of what it’s like to do business with your company. Columbia LandCare runs a series of print advertisements in a local magazine that pair a customer/property picture with a comment from that client. “That stuff speaks for itself,” Taylor says.
•    Keep it consistent. Columbia LandCare unifies its service divisions by using a clean, professional logo that is slightly adapted to reflect each division. The logos and company tagline appear on trucks, advertisements and all company communications. “It’s important to keep consistency in your message from top to bottom,” Taylor says.

 

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