Endorser Brand Strategy and Naming: M&A Minute
Welcome to M&A Minute by Finch Brands. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands. We are a real-world brand consultancy. We help organizations at key moments like mergers and acquisitions strengthen and clarify the full potential of their brands and businesses.
What is an endorser brand strategy?
Today’s topic is don’t sleep on the endorser. What do I mean by that? One of the brand architecture techniques that organizations use when they’re acquiring companies is what we call an endorser, a division of or a blank company.
Sometimes people slap that on almost reflexively to deal with the issue in a front-facing direction. They want to do it quickly without making decisions about how the branding is handled in a long-term way.
An endorsed brand strategy does work transitionally and also sometimes works as a long-term approach. But the reason we say don’t sleep on the endorser is that there’s a lot of different kinds of “endorsed by” statements and constructs – and they mean slightly different things.
Examples of an endorsed brand architecture strategy
I think back to when my parents bought a Ford Taurus. It was this weird, bulbous, yet smooth-moving car. And it was a Taurus. It was different, but it was by Ford.
It was endorsed by Ford, which was designed to suggest that some of the attributes that people may have liked about Ford back then extended to even this vehicle that was different from what we were used to.
Now, there’s a range of different ways to handle an endorsed brand strategy. For example, Courtyard by Marriott. That’s simple. It’s just “by”, so Marriott is bringing you Courtyard, but there’s a lot of differences.
If you choose a blank company as an endorsement during a merger or acquisition that conveys that the company in question is part of a larger entity but doesn’t necessarily suggest integration, one might assume that the company operates more or less independently.
That can be good or bad. It may be true or it may be misleading given the reality of the business. But it does evoke a certain feeling.
How to handle naming in endorsement brand architecture
A “division of” is another option. Division implies that there is some separateness, but it is interdependent. Divisions tend to be part of a larger whole, but are more integrated than being a separate company.
So, a “division of” is a way to handle endorsements. That sends a slightly different message. Some of the things that have become au courant in this market are “powered by”, or “brought to you by” for endorsements.
“Powered by” or “fueled by” suggests greater closeness. I would interpret something that is powered by something else to be closer to it, influenced by it, shaped and crafted by it.
It may be a distinctive product offering or solution offering, but compared to a blank company or a division of blank, “powered by” suggests greater integration. When it comes to the endorsed approach, there’s a lot of reasons to do it. The nomenclature that you choose and the words that you choose convey a certain expectation.
When to consider a blank company
When we say don’t sleep on the endorser, we’re suggesting to give some thought and be deliberate and purposeful with the actual nomenclature or the words of the endorsed brand approach. Convey what you want to convey.
If you’re in a space where the continued independence of the company is a selling point to particularly loyal customers, that might be a time to think about a blank company. If we’re talking about coequal divisions of a larger enterprise, then “a division of” might make some sense.
If you’re thinking about something a little bit more integrated and where the master brand is known for technological acumen or innovation, “powered by” might make a lot of sense. It’s a way of spreading that pixie dust of the endorsing brand into whatever we’re bringing to market.