Private equity firms are constantly in need of developing a new brand for their acquisitions, often including a new name, look, logo, and visual identity, along with a website and a go-to-market strategy to launch into the market. Along with private equity acquisitions often comes risk, from regulators, legislators, and policymakers, particularly if the acquisition is in a regulated industry like financial services, healthcare, or even defense.
Bluetext has worked with dozens of private equity firms to develop effective brand strategies and successfully launch those new companies into the market. Whether the goal is driving drives leads and revenue for new acquisitions, mergers, and rebrands, or positioning a new brand in for growth, we’ve seen the challenges that they face, especially with regulators. We’ve often partnered with The Vogel Group, which specializes in assessing risk for PE firms, to help those companies find the right path to success.
When the word among private equity firms spread two years ago that one of the many companies that helps defend individuals’ financial security from identity theft may be for sale, it piqued the interest of some of the larger private equity firms in the market. The target acquisition would bring a ready-made brand to the buyer from which to build and grow its market share. That’s where the partnership between The Vogel Group and Bluetext comes in to play. When working with our clients on the opportunities and risks for an acquisition, we work together to determine if the purchase makes sense and how that company needs to be repositioned in the market to achieve PE’s business objectives.
PE firms saw two large hurdles to overcome if they wanted to acquire the company. The first was on the regulatory and legal side. By virtue of having one foot in the financial services sector and the other in the privacy and identity theft defenses world, any company in that space faces scrutiny at the federal level by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Board—both of which take in complaints on a daily basis against companies that protect against identity theft.
The second was the brand itself. For the PE firm wanting to take advantage of the acquisition target’s name recognition and customer base, it would also have to contend with FTC charges that it had engaged in false advertising, and the fact that it had far more complaints with the Better Business Bureau than similar services.
To move forward with the purchase meant a thorough risk analysis in Washington that reviewed the possible exposure before regulatory agencies as well as Congress and a marketing and brand strategy that could reposition the company away from its past reputation. The winning bidder on the acquisition was one of the leading cybersecurity firms on a global scale. Its solution for how to upgrade the identity protection brand was not to rename the company, but rather to pair it with an existing brand that was a fit from a business standpoint and that would soften its image and give it more credibility – a halo effect that would allow the positives to overtake the existing perceptions and legacy.
The buyer performed an extensive brand audit to find the best fit within its portfolio of products and services. It smartly did not want to abandon the acquisition’s name altogether – it had far too much brand equity. And even though, like many companies in this market, it also had faced criticism from regulators and the Better Business Bureau, its market penetration was strong enough to overcome those reviews with the right positioning.
So instead of starting new, it looked for a line of products that complemented the new acquisition’s solutions and created a co-marketing strategy to soften its image. That other branded line of products was a consumer-grade suite of cybersecurity products that would have a target audience similar to those who need protection from identity theft. As part of its repositioning, it launched the brand strategy with a message that is loud and clear: The acquisition and the cybersecurity brand “are now part of one company, with one mission. More protection for the digital threats of today’s connected world.”
This positioning inspired a new logo for the brand, that never lets buyers forget that two companies now lived side-by-side as part of the larger company’s family of products. The marketing campaigns taking this new brand to its customers is laser-focused on keeping the two brands locked together – ensuring a larger market and a positioning strategy that move away from its legacy.