Editor’s note: Marc Desmond is associate director of insights and business analytics at branding firm Siegel+Gale, New York.  

A merger or acquisition is one of the largest shifts a business can undergo. It is a pivotal cultural, operational and financial inflection point that redefines a company’s business as well as its brand. 

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) hit a record high in 2017, increasing 109 percent in the consumer markets sector due to multiple significant deals. Amazon and Whole Foods; Disney and 21st Century Fox; and Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo were among the companies that utilized M&A in their quest to deliver seamless customer experiences and gain a competitive edge. 

That spending spree persists today, with 69 percent of U.S. CEOs planning to pursue growth through new M&As in 2018, up from 55 percent last year. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, there were 3,774 deals globally totaling $890.7 billion, $393.9 billion of which has been invested in U.S. companies. With deals reaching 10 figures or more, you’d expect that all elements of the unification would be given their due diligence. Yet researching how all brands involved are perceived – both externally and internally – is more often than not low on the list of priorities when it should be taken into greater consideration.    

Your brand is the face of your company. It serves as a guide in making key business decisions and represents how end-customers will form an opinion about your company. With M&As being such a critical, sensitive moment in a company’s history, it is vital to have a thorough understanding of how your brand, as well as any acquired brands, are viewed by target customers. 

Research provides a tangible evaluation of the intangible: your brand. Well-executed fact-based research – primary or secondary; qualitative or quantitative – is one simple strategy to better understand your brand and acquired bran...