Branding during M&A: four steps to planning and preparing your brand rollout

Part three in our series on Branding during M&A
In part one of our series we looked at five rebrand strategies. In part two we dived into the creative process of developing a new brand.

Now it’s time to delve into the detail of how to prepare for a brand rollout.

Brand Engineering is the bridge between the creatives and the project managers who will deliver your branding.

Much is written about both the creative and the implementation processes, but often it’s what happens in between that can make or break a rebrand.

You’ve got your design guidelines, you know where you need to implement your brand.

What’s next?

  • What materials do you need?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Which suppliers will you use?
  • How can you ensure consistency in all markets?

In this blog, we walk you through the four step process of the detailed planning that will make sure that you are brand-implementation-ready.

The planning stage is often overlooked but is key to success
Before you jump in and start to rollout your brand, take time to research, plan and provide as much detail as possible. This will help you to achieve brand consistency and cost certainty.

Step 1 – Design Development

Your design agency will have handed over a comprehensive set of brand guidelines. The clue in in the name – they are there to guide you in implementing your brand consistently. But with the best will in the world, they cannot cover every scenario and detail.

We all know that it’s important to plan ahead. No doubt you will have already scoped various scenarios and may be working already with a brand implementation partner who has provided a full audit of your brand touchpoints.

Equipped with these insights, it’s now time expand on the guidelines and flesh out the rules and solutions in detail.  Take signage as an example.

Consider how your design is specifically applied to a multitude of different real-life signage requirements. What is the signage hierarchy, what is the purpose – wayfinding or standalone? Pylon, monument or fascia, illuminated or backlit?

This is where it really pays to work with specialists who know the product field, but who also how to deliver solutions that will maintain your design integrity.

Developing your design and showing how it will be applied in the real world will be an ongoing feature of your rebrand. The way you capture the developments and nuances is also key and forms part of your brand governance strategy. But that’s a whole other topic for another time!

Step 2 – Detailing and specification

Once you have a full picture of what is required in each area, you can start to add all the finer details. The more detailed you can be, the better:

  • Specific design application
  • More accurate costing
  • Find the best supplier

Let’s consider colour. There are nearly 2,000 Pantone colour references.  Your design guidelines will be very specific about which colour to use, most often in 2D print. But it’s a whole different story when you have to achieve the exact colour match in your retail store, car dealership or workplace – be it graphics, tiling, wallpaper or paint.

Of course, product knowledge is important but what probably counts most is experience. What works on paper does not always translate in reality. Tried and tested solutions are worth their weight in gold.

Trusted sources

Designers, architects, interior designers, specifiers – they can all contribute to detailing and specifying the right materials and in the right quantities.

They understand how different materials work, which finishes or lighting solutions will give you the best result.

Remember to reach out to suppliers too – their technical teams are always happy to advise on the best solution. Obviously be aware that their advice will be restricted to their own product range.

To save doing the rounds with multiple suppliers in an attempt to find the best solution, consider using an independent adviser who has experience across the board.

Brand implementation companies undertake this exact task day in and day out – tap into their experience and product knowledge.

'Protect your design integrity - the more detail you can specify, the greater your chance of achieving your brand vision'

Step 3 – Documentation & Prototyping

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”

I don’t think anyone reading this blog would disagree with this statement.  There is more information, more choices, more sources of information than ever before and it’s more readily available than ever.

In Step 2 ‘Detailing & Specification’ you have honed down the many and often overwhelming number of choices available – to convert this ‘information’ into knowledge that can be shared with your team, it’s time to document and then test drive the solutions.

Many people will be involved in your rebrand – to keep them aligned and delivering against your specific objectives, it’s vital to pass on and share your knowledge.


The better the brief to all involved, including suppliers, the better the outcome. Leave no room for doubt – robust documentation results in consistent branding and eliminates the risk of costly mistakes or going over budget.

Create a comprehensive set of instructions that covers:

  • Quantities required
  • Technical drawings
  • Architectural plans
  • Artworks
  • Materials specification
  • Workstreams


Particularly for larger branding programmes and the branding of physical environments or experiences, a pilot scheme will identify potential issues and pre-empt issues.

Often larger organisations have their own ‘dark’ sites where design concepts are tested, sometimes with customers.

This is your chance to try out options – experiment with different finishes, formats, lighting, layouts, materials and colours.

  • Experiment with formats and layouts
  • Test the customer journey
  • Add product
  • Trial different product solutions

A pilot also provides the ideal opportunity to engage with key stakeholders. Chief Executives love to be involved at this stage and express their opinion. Getting them on side at this stage will smooth the way for the next step in your rebrand journey – your national or international rollout programme.

Stage 4 – Tendering

Your prototype site has turned your information into valuable knowledge – you know what works where.  Now it’s time to share this knowledge with those who can deliver your solutions.

Armed with your guidelines and documentation, it’s time to create your ‘tender pack’ so that you can brief the best suppliers.  Remove any room for interpretation – provide as much information as possible including visualised design concepts, graphic schedules, profile packages and architectural placement plans and elevations.

The process for finding, qualifying and appointing suppliers can be time-consuming. Don’t underestimate the time needed to prequalify, brief, evaluate, shortlist, listen to presentations, visit sites, select, negotiate and finally appoint suppliers.

You may want to involve your Procurement team and of course require input from the Legal team.

Top five tips

  1. Accept that brand guidelines are never ‘finished’ but they develop and grow organically as you rollout your brand.
  2. There is no magic wand to translate your on-paper design into real-world branded touchpoints. The painstaking work of detailing and specifying every element of your brand solutions will pay off in the end. Your reward will be brand consistency, cost control, a smoother rollout, better supplier relationships and a happier team.
  3. Don’t be afraid to rely on external resource.  When it comes to understanding product solutions that will protect the integrity of your brand identity, then experience is everything. If you’re doing your first rebrand, you cannot possibly be expected to know the plethora of latest products that are available.  This is what specialist rebrand companies do – why not benefit from their experience?
  4. Test, test, test, particularly if you are facing a large rebrand. Before you scale up your efforts to multiple locations or markets, a prototype or pilot will check that all solutions work and gives you the chance to adjust accordingly.
  5. Pre rebrand checklist: brand guidelines, specifications, documentation packs, pilot scheme, suppliers appointed.  You’re good to go. Let the implementation begin…Good luck!

Find out more

Our team of rebrand specialists is on hand to help with your rebrand, from strategy through to implementation. Contact us for an initial no-obligation chat.

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Branding during M&A: Four steps to brand implementation

In part one we looked at Five Rebrand Strategies. In part two we dived into the Creative Process of developing a new brand.