Last week we proudly unveiled our new name, bold brand identity, and reimagined InvestorRelations.com website. We say proudly because this new “look” truly embodies the firm Sharon Merrill Advisors is today — innovative, insight-driven, and obsessed with client service.
A core part of our work is helping clients develop communications strategies to articulate their value proposition to their stakeholders – be it investors, employees, customers, communities, or the world at large. It has been a fun and rewarding exercise to apply the guidance we regularly offer our clients to our own rebrand.
What are the key elements to effective rebranding?
- Lead with your values. Leading with what you stand for, not what you do, is key to engaging your stakeholders and making an impact. For Sharon Merrill Advisors, this meant moving beyond a list of services and leading with the value we deliver. By changing a single word in our name (from ‘Associates’ to ‘Advisors’), we emphasized our approach to high-touch counsel, and we leaned into our obsession with driving client value with our new tagline “Value creation for today’s dynamic capital markets.” These messages have been carried through all messaging and channels – from our website to our email signatures.
- Connect through compelling storytelling. As we share in this blog, effective storytelling should be substantive, honest, reflective of your stakeholders POV, relevant and specific. This can be achieved through strong positioning, deliberate language choices, and a meaningful visual identity. For Sharon Merrill Advisors’ rebrand, we were clear on how we deliver value to our clients through our newly defined six areas of expertise. For each, we took a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach to articulate our value proposition through an enhanced case study library, client testimonials and insights in ‘The Advisor Blog’. Our new brand colors and graphic elements were selected to showcase our innovative, collaborative and data-informed approach. And our new logo was designed to represent both our roots in the capital markets, as well as the exponential power, partnership, and precision we deliver (as symbolized by the caret ^.)
- Use your website as a critical communication platform. As we so often tell clients, you only get one chance to make a first impression and your website is your first line of offense. This goes as much for public company investor relations websites as it does for firms like ours. A strong website should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, content-rich, and, you guessed it, filled with storytelling. We applied all these tips on the refreshed InvestorRelations.com.
- Proactively engage with integrated communications. Taking your messaging beyond your website with an integrated communications plan is a key step to engage your stakeholders. This includes identifying the ideal channels to connect with your various audiences (such as social media, news releases, email campaigns, presentations, conferences, etc.), maintaining a consistent voice guided by a key messaging architecture, and having a clearly established plan that extends beyond your launch. For our rebrand, we focused on engaging our clients and partners through LinkedIn, sending a personal note to our clients via email, and issuing a press release to more broadly articulate our message. We also will use our rebrand as a catalyst for having a more consistent voice in the market through blogs, podcasts, webinars and more.
- Don’t forget about one of your most important stakeholders – your team! No matter what the communication task at hand is, your employees are always a key stakeholder group. As you plan your communications strategy it is important to ask: What is your internal communications plan? How are you engaging your team before, during and after your communications? We are very fortunate to have the best team in the industry – smart, driven, and committed to excellence in all we do. Our rebrand was a true collaboration across the Sharon Merrill Advisors’ team, so we thought it only appropriate to wrap up here with some of our team members’ own words:
“I love the new SMA brand. It is dynamic and modern, and better reflects the value we bring to clients as leaders in IR and communications.” – Laura
“Our new visual identity is energetic, vibrant, and relevant. It reflects our commitment to constantly identify new and innovative ways to help clients achieve their objectives.” – Scott
“I am excited for the modern refresh of our website. Just like we advise our clients, it takes a ‘show don’t tell’ approach to illustrate how we deliver value.” – Nick
“Our sleek new brand spotlights the value we deliver – high-touch and sought after counsel, merged with new technology and dynamic approaches to investor relations all with one goal: deliver best-in-class service to all our clients.” – Ian
“I am looking forward to showing up with a fresh and bold brand that reflects our expertise in financial communications and commitment to constantly delivering value for our clients.” – Ben