Like it or not, your company is being watched closer than ever before, and your Investor Brand is front and centre of this scrutiny. There are more stakeholders looking at more platforms, more frequently. And what they care about is rapidly shifting too. What does this mean for Australian businesses?
At Designate we have been at the forefront of investor communications for almost 30 years. In this time we have seen trends come and go, shaping our approach to inspiring engagement and our relationship with clients along the way.
A recent transformation is perhaps the most remarkable, because it impacts every aspect of an organisation’s communication strategy. And we are only scratching the surface.
It has to do with the enhanced scrutiny of investor communications: more people watching, more often and more critically.
Gone are the days when listed companies relied on a two-pole communication tent: annual report and AGM. Today, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
In this article we discuss the implications of this new scrutiny on your Investor Brand.
But first things first: What do we mean by Investor Brand?
Like any brand, Investor Brand is essentially a promise of value. It is built over time as a result of multiple factors, including reputation, past performance, communication strategy, market perception and leadership expertise.
Ultimately, it serves as a shortcut for investor decision-making: is this a company they are willing to back? When properly harnessed, Investor Brand is the perfect vehicle for long-term engagement with the market.
Organisations have the ability to shape their Investor Brand through many levers but at the heart of it all there is a recognisable, lasting and compelling investor narrative.
It starts with a story.
What is happening out there with Investor Brands?
1. Everyone is watching
Despite its name, Investor Brand speaks to an audience beyond actual investors. It matters to the analysts who assess the value potential of a certain stock. It is relevant to regulators who often define the boundaries and rules of any given competitive space.
It must also speak to the communities where these companies operate and where their impact is more visible.
And finally, Investor Brand needs to accurately represent the employees who are often the face of the organisation and drivers of its purpose.
2. Everyone is watching, all the time
It’s not just that there are more stakeholders paying attention, there are also multiple windows for them to look through. Some of these are platforms that organisations can control, such the annual report, investor website or social media presence.
Other platforms are shaped by external actors, including analysts, specialised media, regulators, current and potential investors. They all have a voice and a stage they are willing to use to influence, disrupt or challenge the ongoing narrative. Activist investors are taking full advantage of this context.
3. Everyone is watching, all the time, and their interest is shifting
What the investment community values about an organisation — what they pay attention to, question and reward — has also seen a transformation in the past few years.
If for a while it was slow burn but then, early in 2020, Blackrock's CEO Larry Flink put it front and centre in his annual letter to investors. His focus was sustainability but there are other prominent issues, from diversity to governance to transparency.
Increasingly, it is all of them at once.
It is not just about the numbers.
The point is, financial performance is no longer enough to assess the value of a stock or the potential for an organisation to remain relevant and enjoy sustained growth.
All these other factors must also be considered and there is no better place to bring it all together than through a recognisable, lasting and compelling investor narrative.
Because it is this investor narrative that defines who you are, what you stand for and how you plan to achieve your organisational goals.
What is Designate’s approach to help clients tackle these challenges?
We recommend a holistic approach to investor communication, one that places your Investor Brand (and its narrative) at the centre of every communication initiative and platform.
A holistic communications strategy has the power and potential to attract, inform, maintain and nurture relationships with stakeholders; strengthening your investor brand in the process.
Attention is a precious currency these days: difficult to gain and very easily lost..
To this extent, we work directly with the IR and marketing teams to ensure they have the confidence, tools and resources to execute these communications, flawlessly.
We help them deliver timely, accurate and meaningful information across all relevant touchpoints to allow organisations to control their investor narrative.
From there, investor communication becomes an exercise of consistency, coordination and collaboration.
And while some touchpoints like the annual or sustainability reports are ‘one-offs’, others like social media or employee communications are windows that remain open 365 days a year.
In short, at Designate we provide strategic thinking and creative execution to help Australian companies build stronger Investor Brands.
So, what can a strong Investor Brand do for your organisation?
Ultimately, Investor Brand is both a shield and stage, an opportunity to carve a unique space in the market, and a mechanism to execute business strategy.