Brand strategy is a fundamental part of corporate strategy and constitutes a key condition for companies operating in international B2B contexts, enabling them to manage relations with customers, stakeholders and shareholders effectively. Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are drivers of change in both brand architecture and brand portfolio strategies pursued by B2B companies. This paper aims to investigate brand architecture and brand portfolio management strategies in the B2B domain by focusing on the branding decisions of container shipping lines in the context of M&As. A taxonomy of branding options available to B2B companies is presented and empirically applied to the container shipping industry, which has undergone several waves of M&A activities in recent decades. The brand strategies of some of the most M&A active players in the industry (i.e. Maersk Line, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM) are examined, with a particular focus on corporate visual identity (i.e. the name and visual devices such as logo, typeface and colour) adopted after an M&A transaction. Our empirical dataset on M&As in container shipping includes the names of the acquirer and acquired company or merging entities, the geographical scale of the shipping networks of the acquirer and acquired, the type of transaction, the year of the the M&A's formal completion, the adopted corporate visual identity after the M&A and the financials of the M&A transaction. Moreover, we propose a conceptualisation of the factors, drivers and impediments that shape ocean carriers' attitude towards the different branding options and strategies. The results demonstrate two dominant strategies, for example the new entity adopts the visual identity and name of the acquirer ('backing the stronger horse'), or the lead and target brands continue to exist independently after the M&A activity ('business as usual', often as part of a broader multi-brand strategy). These two strategies and the hybrid option of combining them represent 78% of the M&A cases. The remaining M&A cases strongly relied on hybrid strategies involving a change in the adopted strategy many months, or even years after the M&A. We show that the decisions of shipping lines regarding branding in an M&A context are influenced by a complex set of interacting drivers and factors which can differ from one case to another and can change over time. This paper contributes to extant literature by demonstrating a more comprehensive typology of possible brand strategies by providing an empirical analysis in a B2B environment and by presenting a novel conceptualisation of the factors affecting brand strategy in an M&A context.

Brand strategies of container shipping lines following mergers and acquisitions: carriers’ visual identity options

Satta G.;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Brand strategy is a fundamental part of corporate strategy and constitutes a key condition for companies operating in international B2B contexts, enabling them to manage relations with customers, stakeholders and shareholders effectively. Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are drivers of change in both brand architecture and brand portfolio strategies pursued by B2B companies. This paper aims to investigate brand architecture and brand portfolio management strategies in the B2B domain by focusing on the branding decisions of container shipping lines in the context of M&As. A taxonomy of branding options available to B2B companies is presented and empirically applied to the container shipping industry, which has undergone several waves of M&A activities in recent decades. The brand strategies of some of the most M&A active players in the industry (i.e. Maersk Line, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM) are examined, with a particular focus on corporate visual identity (i.e. the name and visual devices such as logo, typeface and colour) adopted after an M&A transaction. Our empirical dataset on M&As in container shipping includes the names of the acquirer and acquired company or merging entities, the geographical scale of the shipping networks of the acquirer and acquired, the type of transaction, the year of the the M&A's formal completion, the adopted corporate visual identity after the M&A and the financials of the M&A transaction. Moreover, we propose a conceptualisation of the factors, drivers and impediments that shape ocean carriers' attitude towards the different branding options and strategies. The results demonstrate two dominant strategies, for example the new entity adopts the visual identity and name of the acquirer ('backing the stronger horse'), or the lead and target brands continue to exist independently after the M&A activity ('business as usual', often as part of a broader multi-brand strategy). These two strategies and the hybrid option of combining them represent 78% of the M&A cases. The remaining M&A cases strongly relied on hybrid strategies involving a change in the adopted strategy many months, or even years after the M&A. We show that the decisions of shipping lines regarding branding in an M&A context are influenced by a complex set of interacting drivers and factors which can differ from one case to another and can change over time. This paper contributes to extant literature by demonstrating a more comprehensive typology of possible brand strategies by providing an empirical analysis in a B2B environment and by presenting a novel conceptualisation of the factors affecting brand strategy in an M&A context.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1123476
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