According to a survey of 45 private equity firms, 70% of respondents say having a strong brand is very important and 30% say it is somewhat important. Ninety-one percent say the need for a strong brand has increased over the last two years, driven by competition for deals (according to 56% of respondents), an increase in the number of private equity firms (19%) and competition for fundraising (19%). The goals of increased brand building are generating awareness among CEOs and management teams (50%), limited partners (33%), and investment bankers (11%).
The attributes that contribute most to a strong brand are investment returns (per 79% of respondents), management team (63%) and clearly articulated firm positioning (53%), followed by content that demonstrates a firm’s expertise (47%) and firm culture (47%).
To succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, 42% of private equity firms are taking steps to increase their visibility and 58% are increasing their marketing budgets.
“There is consensus among private equity firms that building a strong brand is essential for deal sourcing, fundraising and recruiting, and it is encouraging to see private equity firms embrace the need for differentiated firm positioning and ongoing integrated communications programs that positions them as experts,” said Bill Haynes, president and CEO of BackBay Communications.
“Just as there is competition for new deals and limited partner funding, there is competition for mindshare among limited partners, investment bankers, business brokers and management teams, and forward-thinking private equity firms are making a commitment to clearly convey the reasons investors, advisors and companies should work with them.”
The most effective means for private equity firms to build their brands include strong investment returns (according to 79% of survey respondents), investment discipline (63%) and building a cohesive firm culture (58%). These attributes can best be leveraged through personal meetings (63%), conference speaking (58%), marketing materials (47%), media interviews (32%), websites (37%) and white papers that demonstrate a firm’s expertise (37%).
“It is essential for private equity firms today to have a professional approach to media relations—whether residing in-house or outsourced to an agency—to manage and protect their reputations and that of their portfolio companies, as well as to capitalize on positive news and demonstrate their expertise,” said Haynes.
Nearly a third (32%) of private equity firms say social media is a necessary channel to distribute firm news and views. While 26% say they are considering using social media in the future, 26% don’t see social media as necessary for private equity.
“Private equity firm branding, marketing. and public relations have become much more sophisticated over the last decade as private equity firms professionalize their operations,” said Garrett Black, PitchBook’s manager of custom research. “With private equity firms of all sizes needing to compete for dollars and deals and with more team members spinning off to start their own firms, clearly articulating a firm’s positioning and then raising awareness through complementary tools and tactics is more important than ever.”