Marketing and branding are often thought of as the same, but they’re not interchangeable.
Listing on the stock exchange is a significant moment for any business. It opens opportunities for growth, invites new audiences to engage and creates a buzz around who and what you are.
Yet, amongst the effort and excitement to achieve an IPO, many overlook the impact the listing has on their brand and its potential to help better engage stakeholders. This is often where a brand is truly tested. Ensuring your brand is in the strongest position before, during and after a listing will help attract, engage and retain all stakeholders.
Branding is relevant to everyone across all parts of the business. Everything is branding because everything communicates.
“Something as significant as listing on the stock exchange sends one of the strongest messages to your stakeholders and market about your business and brand.” During this period there will be intense focus on your business, so it’s even more important to ensure every interaction people have with you consistently communicates on brand. Even the listing itself introduces a new opportunity for effective communications to all your stakeholders. When done well, this not only provides a focal point for investors and capital raising, it drives deeper engagement and advocacy as well.
However, we see many organisations get caught up in the listing, but miss the unique opportunity to re-evaluate the nature of their brand. An impact that can be felt throughout the listing, the IPO and beyond.
In light of this, below are three brand transformational factors to consider when listing:
On announcing a listing the audience base immediately diversifies as the organisation is both introduced to and assessed by many new segments across its market.
Your brand needs to connect with each audience, new and old, to remain relevant with consideration for their different relationships and agendas. What might be important to an investor, for example, is different to a customer – let alone your internal people, suppliers or partners.
Just as the audience diversifies on listing, the role of your brand broadens as a new entity within the brand architecture is introduced.
This puts tension on the brands’ story: Investors must understand the brand’s intentions for the future whilst recongnising the intangible value of its goodwill on the balance sheet.
At the same time, this new story must also make sense to other valued stakeholders for example employees, clients and customers. If the brand fails to explain this to its audiences, opportunities for engagement, interest and advocacy will be impacted. We see this happening all the time.
Successful investment leads to further diversification and organisational growth via increased funding for marketing, new products and acquisitions or both. With increased range of capabilities and reach your brand’s architecture will only grow and stretch so far, before it becomes confusing to each audience.
This is another place where we see brands become unstuck, as the access to capital and pressure from investors drives a requirement to show growth. No longer a privately held company, growth perpetuates confusion in itself with potential of making the business feel a little like a runaway train. Although this success should be celebrated, if the brand has not properly been defined, communicated or managed, the resulting confusion around its growth and future direction can feel especially acute.
Confusion, the enemy of great branding
Confusion for your traditional audiences (including your staff, clients and customers) at worst leads to disenfranchisement – meaning their positive advocacy for your brand begins to wane internally and externally.
For the investment community, confusion about what the company is all about and the direction in which it is going can hinder their interest and effect price and investment before, on and after listing.
Managing this effectively requires being prepared for the impact the listing will have on your brand and its architecture. Defining your brand strategy prior to listing creates the story, provides room for future growth and sets a blueprint for managing acquisitions, expansion and engagement.
Remember, a strong brand helps your audiences understand what your business does, what makes it different and sets you up for future success. That’s why its so important to evaluate your brand when preparing an IPO.