The business case for a branded suite of investor communications
Director, Strategy, Matt Hepler, considers how consistent, brand-aligned messages across suites of investor communications give stakeholders confidence.
When we imagine a brand, what do we picture? Some people see a company’s name and logo. Others think of its advertising, or its color palette and tone of voice. And then there are those who equate it with a set of values, a mission statement, or even a corporate narrative.
None of these answers are wrong. But none of them are exactly right either. When people think of a brand, the images that come to mind are most often symbols of that brand. Because, in reality, a brand is nothing more than a message, or the promise to be or to do something, e.g. Achieve the Impossible.
Companies that understand this do everything they can to protect this message, making sure to translate it consistently across all relevant stakeholder engagements. Never allowing any brand symbol to move too far afield from the accepted norm. Unfortunately for many organizations relevant touchpoints begin and end with marketing – and maybe employee engagement. Too often, they don’t extend to other touchpoints which results in a lost opportunity to communicate an important message, and can also lead to new and sometimes conflicting messages being introduced.
Take, for example, investor communications. How many companies see their annual reports, proxies and ESG reports as brand touchstones? How many see them as needing to support a common message? The answer, sadly, is not many which means there are a great number of companies spending millions of dollars a year in marketing that are still losing brand value. All because they are being short-sighted and failing to see the merits of taking a wider view.
Like any of its other communications, a company’s suite of investor collateral needs to support its larger brand message. Financial stakeholders need to see that its business, governance and community strategies are aligned with its underlying ethos and reason for being. If they aren’t then stakeholders lose faith in what the company stands for and is trying to accomplish. Additionally, and just as importantly, when looking at these documents together, investors need to see a connection between them that goes beyond aligning to a common mandate. They need to see how they relate to and support each other. If different information is being communicated in an ESG report than a proxy, or if decisions around the Board do not line up with the business strategy being articulated in a company’s annual report than readers are left questioning the company’s focus and asking what is true versus what isn’t.
Companies that maintain consistent, brand-aligned messages across their suites of investor communications give stakeholders confidence that their leadership teams have clear visions and that they are capably bringing those insights to market. Additionally, it shows that that they are taking their brands seriously, that they are not losing sight of the fact that the brand lives beyond marketing communications, and that the financial and investor community plays as important a role in defining what a company stands for in the market as both consumer and customers. They are not a group to be taken for granted as their opinions also drive perceptions.
It is always important for companies to look at the big picture when communicating, to pay attention to how things work together. Of course, this takes discipline, but the rewards are great. It gives stakeholders confidence and, as a result, reinforces their loyalty in a company, providing an ongoing reason to believe which, in today’s world, is not always easy to come by.
If you want to talk about your investor communications, please get in touch.