Preparing your organisation for an IPO (initial public offering) is an extremely significant moment for any business. There are several factors that need to be considered in the preparation stages and one extremely important, but often forgotten factor is the strength of your brand.
Brand and marketing have a significant role to play in preparing for an IPO; it impacts everything from investor relations, company equity, value and consumer trust. In many instances, brand can be an organisation’s most valuable asset, especially in the case of digital first businesses where no physical assets are owned by the company – Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, AfterPay and Airtasker to name a few very well-known examples.
When looking at these specific examples – the brands have become household names prior to the organisations announcing IPOs. Investors already know and like (or dislike) the brand, they understand the brand and what it promises, and they already trust that the brand will deliver on these promises.
When preparing for an IPO, you should be viewing your ‘potential investors’ as a customer segment that you are trying to attract. Investors are looking for companies with a story to tell and they are buying into this story when they choose to invest.
While the financial side of the IPO takes the focus of senior leaders and board members, there is a strong argument to ensure brand has a place in the IPO planning process.
Whilst a strong brand is essential for all businesses, preparing for an IPO places even greater visibility on your brand and increases the necessity on having a strong, clear and powerful brand that will be able to stand out and attract investor attention.
It is vital that the following five questions can be answered to ensure your brand is investor-ready…
Clients often come to us at BrandMatters to provide an unbiased measure of their brand. From the inside, there are several reasons why organisations find it challenging to self-evaluate. Often the company or the market has evolved but the brand has remained the same. When you are working with your brand on a regular, day-to-day basis, you may miss the obvious signals that your brand is no longer resonating with your customers or that there is an opportunity to evolve the brand to meet new expectations.
It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is why we recommend an evaluation process including brand research on both internal and external perceptions of the brand as an extremely important first step in ensuring your brand is going to stand up and stand out during the IPO process.
Once you have the insights from the research, it will be a lot easier to understand the next steps that may be required from a brand strategy point of view. You may have discovered insights that point to opportunities for you to either stretch, refine, restructure or refresh your brand from the inside out.
If your brand positioning is not clear, it is likely that your brand story is not resonating with your audience. Or you might have discovered that you simply need to refresh your visual identity to ensure it is distinctive and stands out in your market.
Research provides insights that help identify opportunities to grow and stretch your brand within your marketplace, or opportunities to potentially extend vertically or horizontally in your industry. If this is the case, you will need to assess your current brand architecture framework to prepare your organisation for future extensions in your portfolio. A key component of the IPO process is to provide the initial investment to fund growth, so it is important that your brand architecture can support this growth.
At this point in time, it is important to consider your visual identity. Does it reflect your positioning? Is it distinctive and memorable? Is it reflective of your brand and does it symbolise confidence and success? The logo and visual identity of your brand is often the first thing investors will see when reviewing an IPO prospectus. In preparation, you may need to consider a refresh or tweak of your visual identity prior to taking the next step. It is important that the visual identity of your brand represents your brand at its best.
Once you have uncovered the clear strategic direction for your brand, the next step is to implement the necessary changes. This is where a brand platform comes into play. Developing a brand platform that articulates your brand positioning, brand story, key messages and core customer value proposition is a vital tool in communicating and executing these changes both visually and verbally across all channels.
This brand platform can be used, to navigate the entire organisation through the IPO process, from the investor communications documents such as the prospectus, to your public communications strategy, website and social media content.
An effective brand architecture framework will enable your company to grow and expand as opportunities arise. Brand architecture helps your organisation confidently organise, manage and go to market with your brands. With an IPO comes opportunities to grow and expand. It is important for an organisation is set up for success in terms of this growth by ensuring that each and every brand within the portfolio has a purpose and performs a specific role. To learn more about brand architecture download our e-guides “An introduction to brand architecture” and “B2B guide to brand architecture”.
Executing the necessary brand changes across all of your channels is both a significant and extremely important process. Consistency is incredibly important in executing these changes to your brand. If there is inconsistency, this can cause confusion (both internally with your employees, or externally with investors, clients and customers). Any confusion due to inconsistent communication of your brand and its messaging can cause distrust in the investor community, which could in turn impact negatively on the results of the IPO.
At the end of the day, a strong brand will allow potential investors, clients and customers to understand what your business does, what makes it different and what will drive success in the future. Preparing your brand must be one of the first steps your organisation should consider if you are either preparing or considering going public.