How to manage brand when a company splits

How to manage brand when a company splits

In the first of what I hope will be lots of great questions, here is one about how to handle brand when a company splits in two.

Due to circumstances beyond our control our business is being split in two. How do we handle the brand which has become well known by our clients and industry?

Not knowing the details, the split you’re referring to could be due to all kinds of different circumstances. For example:

  • It could be a product /service has grown to the point where it risks cannibalizing the rest of the business and so it is being spun off into its own entity.
  • It could be a parting of the ways between partners is leading to a split, with one keeping the previous name and a few clients and the other taking the remaining clients and starting a new business.
  • It could be an existing business is being split, with both pieces taking on new identities.

No matter the circumstances of the split, the key to any change in any business is clear and consistent communications about what is happening and how it will impact various stakeholders – internal and external. Amidst all the things that need doing associated with any kind of split, it can be easy to forget how important it is just to keep people informed with relevant, positive and consistent communications.

  • What is changing (or not)
  • What does it mean for them
  • What can they expect now, next and in the longer term

Be careful not to make your issues theirs, so put yourself in their shoes (internal and external) and share with them what’s relevant, keeping the rest behind the scenes where it belongs.

The awareness that comes with being well known does mean that you will have to work a bit harder to make sure people know about and aren’t confused by the split. It can take time to transfer what was into what is, while also supporting what’s left, so repetition here is important. You want to quell uncertainty and build confidence.

Even if you feel like you’ve already said it – say it again. Clients will take your lead, and if you are positive and confident then they are much more likely to accept things.

The other element, critical to a successful split, is to double down your focus on delivery for your clients. Do everything you say you will when and how you promised it. In general, people aren’t too worried about changes in name and identity (which I’m assuming is part of the mix here). But they will and do care if something they like and know changes unexpectedly.

The brand that your clients and industry knows is the result of many different actions and decisions you’ve made over time. Keep up the communication and be extra focused on aligning what you are doing with how and why you are doing it across both sides of the split and the brand(s) will handle itself.

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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on Twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at Each week I’ll choose one (or two) to answer in this blog.

See you next week with a question about brand management across different platforms.


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