We all know combinations that go well together: peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, pizza and beer...

For our team at Overture Networks, the challenge was to create another great combination when our company merged with long-time complementary competitor Hatteras Networks. Though each company was a market leader in its respective segment of the telecommunications equipment market, the merger brought about changes in scale.

Operating under the name Overture, the combined company now had an expanded product portfolio, an extended sales footprint, and an even more capable technology team, all of which translated to a company better positioned for continued growth.

Nonetheless, the merger presented challenges. To maintain a top spot with our customers, industry analysts, and key stakeholders, the company had to quickly unite around a set of shared values.

To help avert an identity crisis, Overture initiated a rebranding exercise to align individual employees and teams and to develop a shared culture. Working through a six-month branding effort, we learned seven key lessons we deemed worth sharing, in the hope they can help others who might face similar challenges.

1. Executive buy-in is critical

Our newly merged executive team, like the rest of us, needed to quickly get on the same page. They recognized that our rebranding project had the power to help grow the business and change buying behavior. And, if done correctly, it would unify everything from our messages to our product road map to our logo and even our teams. Their support validated the project and our process.

With the CEO's support, every executive leader, a member of our board of directors, and other company leaders became involved. Vested in the project's success and expecting measurable results, they all cleared their calendars to participate.

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Mark Durrett is director of marketing at Overture, which develops and manufactures high-speed carrier Ethernet edge and aggregation solutions.

Alicia Smith is communications specialist Overture, which develops and manufactures high-speed carrier Ethernet edge and aggregation solutions.