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What role for brand during an IPO?

An IPO presents a number of positioning and communications’ opportunities for any corporate brand, as it’s the one time (depending on the size of the organisation) that media coverage is pretty much guaranteed.

The challenge, therefore, is to ensure that the brand positioning (e.g. corporate proposition; vision; values; purpose; image), together with primary and secondary messaging, are not only clearly defined, but tested and validated; especially with reference to what is being said in the prospectus and corporate presentations.

The CMO, or Corporate Communications Director, needs to be able to influence this
to ensure accuracy and consistency cross-media; although this will also be at a time when they may well have to fight for a share-of-voice - for as far as most advisors are concerned, ‘brand’ (certainly in the non-FMCG sectors) doesn’t have a priority, or even the right, to sit at the table during the IPO process. The risks are clearly high, and rules and controls as to what can be said - and when - extremely tight (varying on the listing exchange); but there is still an opportunity to raise corporate profile, gain market impact and enhance the overall brand throughout the IPO process. One that should not be missed.

The critical success factors are:
- having a precise definition of the corporate (brand) positioning / ambition - supported by consistency and coherence of messaging / narrative
- delivered in an impactful way.

One of the most important lessons is not to leave consideration of the brand until the
end of the IPO process. Ideally, it should be included in all up-front discussions. The benefit of perception audits, brand analysis, competitive benchmarking and a formal objective review of the current vs. future / desired positioning will not only provide a clear, supportive framework for the overall IPO value proposition, but also ensure consistency from the beginning. One of the most important aspects of an IPO is getting and keeping the data / information ‘tight & right’ – and this equally applies to the brand as it does to all other financial and operational metrics.

Primary and secondary messaging (supporting narrative) can then be developed, or refined, based on tangible and quantifiable market insights and stakeholder perceptions.

What is possible in terms of implementation and creating IPO impact will be governed by the individual exchange(s), but despite the fact that there are closed periods and limits on how, what and when communications can happen, there is always something that can be done to leverage off the event and strengthen brand equity. Those activities can include not only exchange-based events (more than just ringing the bell); to PR initiatives; internal staff events (hugely important, motivationally); social media opportunities; and specific promotional programmes.

The IPO provides the opportunity to build and enhance the corporate brand (and vice versa), as well as inject additional value, understanding and appreciation at a time when every effort should be made to make the stock attractive.

As a means of unlocking additional value - however difficult to define - it deserves a place at the top table from the outset.

quote inject additional value, understanding and appreciation at a time when every effort should be made to make the stock attractive