Should You Promote a Legacy Brand Name, or Move on with the New One?

branding iron representing a marketing brand or brand name
How to promote a legacy brand name
Consolidation, acquisition, and merger activity among corporations can create a challenge for local marketers, such as a distributor or representative. The dilemma concerns the value in continued promotion of the legacy brand name.

Here is the scenario. You represent the small, specialized, successful manufacturer of a product. A large company with an international brand acquires the small company you represent. Once you clear the hurdle of whether the new owner will maintain the current sales channels, there is then the question of how to present and promote the new brand to your customer base. It is likely that the legacy brand name is well known in the market, but conglomerates will have interest in the promotion of their own brand which may encompass the products of numerous other companies they have acquired. Here are some things to consider.

  • If the principal abandons the legacy brand name, you can still maintain a legacy brand name presence on your website and social media channels. This can help customers unaware of the brand change make a connection with your company. A legacy brand name page on your website, a blog about the brand name change, other social media posts will all help customers link the legacy brand to your company and the new brand name. Effectiveness will be attained through repeated posts about the brand name for however long it takes to establish the new brand in place of the old.
  • If the principal adds their name to the legacy brand name, similar to a hyphenated surname for a spouse, your interests may be best served by promoting both names separately, as well as combined. The newly created combo name will, by itself, have little recognition in the initial stages, and brand development efforts by the acquiring company may not produce the results needed to foster your local sales and promotion efforts. Solid branding does not develop overnight. It takes time, sometimes lots of time. Figuratively hanging some legacy brand name signs on your website and social media channels will enhance search engine performance and bring visitors to your sites where a transitional move toward the new brand name can be implemented.
  • If the principal maintains the legacy brand name, an example of which would be "Legacy Brand Name, a division of Big Company" or something similar, you can mostly maintain your marketing status quo. In this case, the acquiring company is placing significant value on the brand name that they purchased (smart), and you should maintain promotion of the legacy brand.
There are an unlimited number of variants to the three simple scenarios shown here. Your relationships with your principals are the lifeblood of your business. If they provide direction or guidance on how to promote a new branding, it is probably best to conform. 

Brand names that enjoy widespread recognition, good reputation, and identify with a narrow range of products or applications can have immense value. Unless there is a specific prohibition to continuing to provide a connection between your customers and principals through your company by using that legacy brand name, I generally recommend you maintain its useful presence throughout your digital marketing. Though, with a view to the future, keep in mind that younger and new entries into your potential customer pool are unlikely to share the connection strength of industry veterans to the legacy brand name. Over time, which could be years, you should transition your sales promotion to synchronize with whatever path the acquiring company uses. 

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