Unlike mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures demand that parent companies still maintain business as usual to avoid dropping any balls. At the same time the new entity must still hit the ground running on launch day as a fully realised and distinctive brand, in order to build confidence among potential customers. With McKinsey’s research1 suggesting that 40-60% of completed JVs have under performed or failed outright, brand techniques are central to making joint ventures a success.
Over the last 18 months Emberson Brand has worked on a series of major joint ventures between multi-billion-dollar organisations.
While not an exhaustive list of pointers, here are six key takeouts from our recent first-hand experience. These projects may have played out on a global stage, but they apply equally to national and regionally-based ventures.
Developing a JV brand is no part-time role. It requires the creation of a dedicated project team to push it over the line – uniting parent companies and third parties. Choose driven individuals that understand overall product and service capabilities, yet with enough seniority to make decisions autonomously; saving CEO input for final sign-off.
Plan to succeed
Once the JV is announced use the strategic roadmap to create a branding and marketing development plan that works back from the proposed launch date. From initial positioning workshops to finalizing launch messaging it should identify key milestones as well as clarifying who’s responsible for the final delivery of each element. With legal teams involved launch dates can shift, but we found regular Skype review calls keep progress on track.
Call in the champions
Get input from product champions, especially if you’re dealing with advanced engineering or complex technologies. These experts are likely to see the potential value within the newly combined portfolio that everyone else may’ve missed. Including them in the process gives you vital feedback on your propositions, and useful nuggets you can work into your launch marketing.
Make a name for yourself
Apart from the dubious Dr-Frankenstein-like approach of welding parent company names together, every joint venture will need its own unique name. There are some incredibly useful tips on naming here, but the best advice is to factor in enough time for candidates to go through full legal checks. Oh, and avoid setting your heart on a favourite: keep at least three names on your shortlist, just in case.
Show the difference
Given that a joint venture’s raison d’être is likely to be tapping into a whole new audience, it has to project difference from the get-go. Beyond a new name, establishing a unique visual style helps every fledgling joint venture stand apart from its parent companies – rather than imitating them. From photographic treatments to tone of voice, make sure everything is well-documented in a set of guidelines or handbook to fill in any gaps before roll-out and prevent design teams defaulting to parent branding.
Catch a lift
A smart way for joint ventures to gain visibility quickly is by piggybacking on the marketing platforms already established by its parent companies. Our clients are gaining leverage from ‘guest starring’ on the tradeshow booths of their parent companies. Website visitors are being redirected to the JV from sections that have been folded into it. And emails sent to parent company databases are encouraging prospects to sign up for JV marketing, building a new relationship beyond the parent company.
And while it’s still early days for our most recently-branded joint ventures to post results, the parent companies involved have seen a marked hike in share price since launch day, which can’t be a bad thing.
To find out more about how Emberson Brand can help your next joint venture thrive, email the team today at email@example.com