When a company is merged or acquired, it’s essential to maintain brand image and tone of voice. Consumers are drawn to familiarity, and drastic changes to a brand post-acquisition can turn away loyal customers.
We decided to test this strategy on Uber’s Dec. 2020 acquisition of Postmates. Using a social listening tool, we pulled Postmates’ social media copy from before and after the date of acquisition to compare the language used by the brand over time. This comparison will uncover the changes (or lack-there-of) in messaging after Uber’s involvement.
Relative Insight has the unique capability to explore this form of time-based comparative text analysis. Our technology compares two or more written files to reveal the differences and similarities in language used – including words, phrases, topic, grammar and emotion. We can work with any written data source or form of comparison to uncover social insights. This method is key in understanding the unique messaging of a brand or audience over time and across demographics.
Prior to December 2020, Postmates emphasised community-oriented messaging. Our analysis found words like community, and the campaign hashtag #orderlocal used significantly more pre-acquisition. Although Postmates itself was a corporate giant before they became part of Uber, the brand utilized this order local campaign to present a wholesome mom-and-pop-next-door image.
Another key component of messaging pre-acquisition is the idea of snuggling up at home, which we observed through the use of words like comfort food and couch. Postmates placed value on the ease and convenience of their platform and service, and again used wholesome language to conjure up cosy domestic images.
Although easy, price is Postmates’ largest barrier to use, and delivery fees, service fees, tax and driver tip all pile onto the total purchase amount. This pricey problem did not go unnoticed. Before the acquisition, Postmates frequently offered discounts and promo codes to social media followers, and the brand was more likely to use words like deal, code and fees prior to December 2020.
After being acquired by Uber, Postmates began using increased corporate social media strategy techniques, including the use of hashtags and customer service practices. Using social media, Postmates encouraged customers to DM and email the brand directly with concerns or to claim a free meal deal.
These winners of free meals and promo codes often participated in social media contests with a campaign hashtag like #postmatescontest and #betterthansanta. This strategy can be effective in creating a larger social media following and converting customers who historically did not use the platform due to their pricing structure.
Post-acquisition, our analysis uncovered a new emphasis on immediacy from Postmates, and the brand encouraged customers to order now or soon. Food delivery apps are often fuelled by impulsive cravings, and Postmates tried to further capitalize on these spontaneous orders.
We found a huge jump in the use of plural pronouns like we, we’ll and let’s after Uber acquired Postmates. The use of a collective voice is inclusive and aims to maintain consistency across the brand and presents a united front to consumers.
Consistent tone of voice
While messaging shifted post acquisition, tone of voice remained fairly consistent through the use of signature grammatical techniques. Use of 2nd person plural pronouns, general adverbs, interjections and general adjectives stayed the same pre and post-acquisition.
2nd person pronouns include words like you, you’re and you’ll, which are effective in addressing the reader individually. General adverbs and adjectives like best and biggest create descriptive language and emphasize important points in messaging. Lastly, we observed use of spoken interjections like hey, oh, wow and yum. This technique creates a conversational and approachable tone of voice.
It’s only natural that brand strategy shifts post-acquisition or merger, but it is important to maintain the identity consumers have come to know and love. Sudden or drastic changes to the product or service and its image can leave customers confused and untrusting.