1. Be purposeful
Every brand needs a purpose. Consumers assume brands are in business to make money, of course, but they also expect a well-defined and clearly communicated brand purpose...
“Thanks so much for your time, Sarah. I’ll just leave you with some material summarising everything I’ve mentioned today, and I’ll follow up with you in the next few days to answer any questions you may have”.
The prospectus and IM are very similar documents. Most of the information you are legally required to include in the prospectus will be included in your IM, but have a lawyer look over your IM to ensure you have included all the necessary information.
See also: ASIC regulatory guide for prospectuses
An IM is your business plan in a nutshell.
It’s a short document, about 20-30 pages, which highlights the most important aspects and opportunities your investment offers.
It’s very similar to your pitch deck, which you would have used as a visual cue to support your pitch.
The main difference is your IM will be much meatier. It will include more analysis, projections and explanation than you could possibly reveal in your pitch without boring your investors to tears.
That’s not to say this document should be long and drawn out.
Do you think they’re going to sit down with a glass of wine and read it cover to cover? No way!
They’ll use it when a question pops into their head, when they need their memory jogged about something you touched on in your pitch, or when they need to quote a number.
They should be able to scan the contents page and flit immediately to the section, sub-section, even sub-paragraph, that contains the answer to their question.
Being succinct is key to a professional IM. You want punchy sentences. Fact after fact after fact!
These headings and structure are based on Main Street Capital’s recommendations.
In this post I’m going to bundle up the best of the two and provide some further explanation and examples on how to write an information memorandum for your app startup.
Not really, but you need to woo them with your words!
This letter adds a personal touch to the IM by introducing what you and your business are about, your skills and experiences, and your vision for this idea.
We all know that even in business, people make quick judgements based on their first impressions.
Investors are only human after all, and they’re busy humans at that!
Just like the opening sentence of your pitch is hard hitting, grandiose and inspiring, your letter from the director should set up the rest of the IM for success.
This is often the first thing an investor will read in the IM (they might skip the letter if you stood out in your pitch), but unless you appeal and convince, it will be the last.
It should list in dot point form the key highlights of the investment, your offer, and what makes it such an exciting opportunity.
Why is your idea especially interesting or relevant to them?
Why should they keep reading?
The executive summary serves as a short summary of the business plan. It was invented because executives didn’t have time to read a whole business proposal.
It should be written last and contain only the most relevant and significant points made in the IM.
I’ll tell you now that it will break your heart having to condense your entire product, business strategy and market analysis into 1-2 pages.
You might think the summary makes your business look superficial, but believe me, it’s worse to spew information that the investor has to wade through.
You’ll just look like an amateur who doesn’t know what the purpose of an executive summary is.
Allow plenty of time to write a succinct, appealing and convincing summary.
Use subheadings that correspond with the sections of your IM, so investors can easily refer to certain points. Dot points work well here too, as it’s just for scanning.
Even if you’re a startup, there should be some key milestones you’ve achieved to get to where you are now, pitching to that investor.
What have you done to get here?
These milestones almost act like social proof that your idea has traction, and shows you’re a founder who gets stuff done.
If there were setbacks in the company history, (you lost steam somewhere in the middle, ran out of funds, there was a massive drop in customer retention, etc) make sure you address these and talk about the steps you took to prevent these losses happening again.
Overall, this section needs to make you look productive!
That’s a neat segue into talking about your product and where the business is going.
What are your goals, and what is your plan of attack to getting there?
This is all pretty high level stuff. Investors know that execution is always changing and there is some flexibility with your plan, so don’t worry if you don’t nail down exact dates.
At the minimum, you should cover key tasks for the next 3 years.
Be specific in describing which aspects of the business you see expanding, but always remain conservative. Keep assumptions at a minimum, and if you must make one, keep it conservative and explicitly state that it’s an assumption.
You should go into more detail that this, however.
Eg: Raise investment – how much and from who?
Expand existing product line – to what, and why is this a good idea?
Analyse data – what are you going to be looking for in the data?
You don’t need to go overboard, but looking ambitious and organised will show investors this business has long-term potential, and ‘de-risk’ their investment.
It’s also important to justify every step in your growth plan.
Why do you want to expand to serve Adelaide in 2 years time?
What evidence exists that this is a good opportunity and a good move for your business at that exact time?
This shows that you haven’t just thrown in growth milestones because they look good on paper. These milestones should be highly specific to your business.
This section shows you’ve done your homework – that you’re aware of a world of product offerings, competitors and customers that exist outside your business.
With regards to the market itself, you need to include:
With regards to competitors, you need to include:
The best way to find this information is by executing a SWOT analysis.
A SWOT analysis is a breakdown of your competitors’ perceived strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities they create for you and what threats are presented.
Whatever it is, you’ll need some convincing analysis to back up the claims you’ve just made, and prove that your idea has legs to stand on.
Key success factors demonstrate to investors that you’ve thought about ways in which they’ll be able to assess your performance.
It shows them specifically what outcomes they should look for as a result your efforts.
Key success factors are invaluable for founders as well as investors, because they serve as useful benchmarks to reaching your goals.
In terms of measuring your app’s success, there are 5 key metrics:
As well as measuring the success of the product itself, set some KPIs for your business as well:
• social media presence
• employee growth
More importantly, how have you mitigated them?
Your IM will invariably contain some assumptions, so this is where you can address them.
It’s crucial that you consider any and every possible risk involved. If a potential investor identifies a significant risk that you hadn’t considered, it seriously undermines your credibility.
Here’s an actual quote from Blockbuster’s 1999 analyst report: “Investor concern over new technologies is overstated”. Really!
And here’s a photo of a Blockbuster store now:
Moral of the story? Every business venture contains risks.
You might be hesitant to reveal to investors the very real risks of their investment, but you shouldn’t be. Showing that you are aware of the risks demonstrates that you’ve considered the investment proposal thoroughly, and that you’ve put yourself in the shoes of the investor and are prepared.
What can these risks relate to?
Here are some examples of risks:
List risks in order of importance and likelihood of happening.
Beside each one, state the steps you’re taking to minimise the impact of these risks (should they actually occur).
Your risk section doesn’t need to be negative! Transform it into a positive by showing investors your are realistic and proactive.
Why is that?
Without much in the way of data, a customer base or a viable product, the team is the best indicator of a venture’s success. What have they achieved before? Are the likely to do better next time?
State why your team is investment worthy. What skills, connections and experience does each person bring to the table?
Include a photo and a short bio of each person involved in this venture, not limited to immediate or full time staff.
Include any advisors and mentors you can leverage credibility off.
Here’s what you need to include:
It’s basic to the evaluation of an investment opportunity, as well as determining how much company equity the investor will want in return for their investment.
These projections should be justified by the strategies you’ve previously outlined in the IM, and should be conservative.
Include a short paragraph of your big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs) that will inspire investors and bring them back to the same excitement level they had when you were pitching.
An IM is a very formal document, so including a personalised touch at the start and finish puts them in a great frame of mind to read your plan, and reflect on it later.
It also helps investors determine if they’re compatible with your business.
Throw any doubts or restrictions out the window and think about what you want your app to achieve in the long term.
Do you want to expand to every continent?
Do you want to be acquired by Microsoft or Google?
Do you want to revolutionise an industry and completely eliminate the current market leader?
Whatever it is, bundle it up neatly and concisely in a little inspiring package.
Don’t worry about sounding stupid. If you’re not embarrassed or overwhelmed by your long term goals, they’re not big enough.
Investors might not even look at it, but it serves as a place for them to find further information that isn’t immediately relevant to the investment opportunity (eg legal statements, disclaimers, financial statements, data).
Your IM should be able to stand on its own, so it’s a good idea to throw in anything you think there is a slight chance investors will want to see.
Don’t be scared of rejection. It happens to everyone!
Check out these rejection emails Brian Chesky received from Silicon Valley investors after he pitched AirBnb. Read the full list here.
Every investment opportunity is different, just like every business and team is different.
If you follow this structure, you’ll have a professional document to hand to investors when leaving an investment meeting.
In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly offers some quick tips for creating a year-long marketing plan for your business. Entrepreneur
When planning out your business's marketing strategies, remember that a lot can change in a few years, so start with a one-year marketing plan. Create a plan either on paper or in a spreadsheet that includes the following elements:
You already set a goal for what you want to accomplish during the next year, created strategies to succeed in achieving that goal, and identified the top three to five tactics you’ll employ to implement the strategies. Now, it’s time to detail the actions you’ll take.
Next, you'll need to set your annual marketing budget. This is often determined as a percentage of your total annual sales revenues, ranging anywhere from 0.01 percent to almost 10 percent. If your business is a startup, which usually means you have limited current revenues and desperately need to make sales and add customers, you may need to allocate more funds initially to bring in more business.
Once you have a marketing budget, you have to allocate it by month or by season and by marketing medium. The marketing mediums you may be considering include:
It's important to plot your major campaigns first. Major campaigns require more resources and time to get things done than the typical marketing actions you’ll take, so plan for those first. Use a major campaigns calendar that includes headings for the month, the campaign, the expected cost, the actual cost, the resources you'll need, the expected results and the actual results to help you think through the resources you’ll need to complete your actions. That way, you won’t be delayed because you failed to anticipate something you need until the last minute.
Once you've created your plan, it might at first glance look like a lot to take on. The best way to tackle your plan is to break it down into manageable segments. This is why you began by plotting the big stuff, the major campaigns, first. It gives you time to think about what each campaign will require: the actions to complete it, the resources needed, when it has to begin to be ready on time, and a tracking system to evaluate whether it did what it was supposed to do.
Here’s an easy way to approach this challenge:
One word of warning: Marketing activity and expenditures are usually not constant throughout the year. Your business may have busy seasons and slow seasons, and you'll need to plan your marketing activities accordingly. Accounting and tax preparation firms, for example, are enormously busy from January 1 through April 15, might want to do more marketing during the downtimes to help bring in business. But some businesses have constant work all year, such as electrical contractors. These businesses might use a more steady pattern and spread their marketing efforts equally over all 12 months.
Whatever plan you create, just be sure to follow through and stay on track and continue to measure your results so you can plan ahead year after year.
As Jean Jullien heard the news of the terror attacks unfolding in Paris on Friday night, he pulled out a sketchbook and created a simple brush and ink image of the peace symbol with the Eiffel Tower as its central spoke (shown above, via Jullien’s Twitter).
It took only one minute but it was to become a symbol of hope, defiance and humanity. At the time of writing, Jullien’s Instagram post of the image had 160,000 likes and more than 3,400 comments. It appeared on posters and placards, was printed on T-shirts and jackets, painted on faces and drawn on cards left at the scenes of the attacks.
In the frenzied media atmosphere that followed Friday night, the man behind the image became news as well. From The New York Times to The Daily Telegraph, Wired to Slate, media platforms queued up to speak to him.
If you've ever wondered what makes a logo sticky, unforgettable even, you're not alone. Branding firm Siegel + Gale wanted to know too, but after finding little research providing any insight, the shop decided to look into it.
According to Siegel+Gale's new study, Logos Now, logos that are most memorable to the general public use a clear and simple design. Nike, Apple, McDonald's and Coca-Cola are the most memorable global logos; Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Amazon, Target and Adidas round out the top 10.
"Simple was the word that came up above and beyond, more than anything else," said Brian Rafferty, global director of research insights for Siegel+Gale. "When people were asked what makes a logo memorable, it was simplicity."
The branding firm conducted an online study with 3,000 respondents in the U.S. and U.K. who were asked to evaluate logos for more than 100 of the world's largest brands.
According to the findings, memorable logos are 13 percent more likely to get consumers' attention, 7 percent more likely to make them want to learn more about the brand, and 6 percent more likely to suggest a company is more unique than others in its category.
"We now have a benchmark to look at what design can do," said Rafferty. "One of the things the study shows is that there's a familiarity bias in the sense that when people are familiar with brands, they're much more likely to assign positives, and they're much more likely to assign negatives to the same design if they're not familiar with it."
"You see the controversy that always comes up as soon as brands launch new logos," said Rafferty. "One of the things that's great about now having this basis is that we have the benchmark to kind of discount that familiarity bias and really evaluate if logos are doing the job they should be doing or not."
Plus, the study helps show what logo design can and can't do for brands.
"Often we get requests like, 'I really want my logo identity to show that we're trusted,' and we saw that that actually comes much more from the brand itself and not so much design," said Rafferty. "Design can indicate being traditional, but trust and respect—that's really something that's communicated more by what the brand does than the logo."
Here's a breakdown of the attributes associated with certain designs, per the study:
Geometric logos are more commonly associated with being powerful than other logo treatments. Logos with initials are a close second.
Serif wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being traditional than other logos. Font-based wordmarks come in a close second.
Warm and caring
Organic logos are nearly twice as likely to be associated with being warm or caring than any other logo types.
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being trendy than others.
Sophisticated or exclusive
Serif wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being "sophisticated" or "exclusive" than any other logos. In fact, no other logo treatment was in top consideration for being "sophisticated" or "exclusive."
Serif wordmark logos are most commonly associated with being respected. Geometric logos come in a close second.
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are about twice as likely to be associated with being fun as other logos.
Holding shape logos are more commonly associated with being approachable than any other logo treatments. No other logo treatment was in top consideration for being "approachable."
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being cool than other logos.
Holding shape logos are most associated with being original. No other treatment was in top consideration for being "original."
Initials logos are more commonly associated with being edgy than other logos.
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being friendly other logo treatments.
Holding shape and initials logos are almost equally associated with being reliable, making them tops for that attribute.
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being stylish than any other logo treatment.
Organic and geometric logos are almost equally associated with being innovative, tops for that attribute.
When design is done right you can see the strategy behind it. Who is this for? What do they want? What does we say about us? Do we reflect our customers personal identities?
By creating more meaningful and unique identities - customers can see why you do what you do and see how you fit into their lives.
You benefit by being more easily recalled, understood for what you do - therefore creating a barrier to your competition.
So often I see so many brands in the same industry engaged in the perception battle. Take the Australian retail carpet sector for example. They are all engaged in creating noise that their product is cheaper, faster and of higher quality than the competition.
Yet, in the minds of customers they all offer pretty much the same thing, making it even more difficult for any particular one to stand out. It’s difficult to choose between them because their strategy is product centric not customer centric. Meaning, no particular company stands out as the one attempting to make a customers life easier.
No brand is cutting through the noise and positioning themselves as the only choice in the minds of consumers.
But, there’s a way to cut through.
By making a few changes often just to the Brand Identity and by alluding to the specific attributes of the brand, we can enhance the brand reputation so it becomes the clear and only choice in the minds of consumers.
We are in the art of good design and we start the process through our tailored Brand Workshops. They are a good start in getting to know your brand again and allowing you to pave the way forward.
One of the key benefits of branding and design is the ability to increase value perception and therefore price premium.
Choose you more often, delivering income through extra volume.
Pay more for the product, delivering income through charging higher prices, or
Be more resilient to discounting.
Customers are more likely to stick with a brand that they trust, or try it in the future indicating lower risk and likely future growth.
Good branding literally predisposes customers to choose you for what you do best.
I believe the worlds best design always has strong strategic thought behind it.
Good design clearly articulates the thinking behind it.
Good design encourages the customer to delve into a deeper level of meaning, separate to the product/service it is trying to promote.
It encourages the customer to ask questions such as:
A clever brand is now turning its attention away from the seat of control and is allowing its customers to now call the shots. A clever brand has now flipped the brand premise around and instead of focussing on its products that it produces, it is now asking itself the question: “How do I empower my customers?”, “ How can I them lead them to achieve their goals?”
It’s a very different way to look at branding, but once you get your head around it everything becomes easier and especially the understanding of how to make a profit.
I love it when I enter into a retail space that exemplifies thought. It exudes a particular type of attention that when done right, commands attention from the customer. You feel good in that space, almost like you have been considered and appreciated. There’s a particular level of empathy - like that brand understands what you are needing to feel connected and happy.
Do your customers talk about your retail spaces? Do they share selfies? Do they talk about it even after the experience has ended? Are you taking advantage of the indelible sensory experience your space provides?
It’s basically how well you walk your talk. The brands around the world that invest in their Brand Experience, on average, sell more, demand higher price premiums and have greater customer engagement. Don’t you want that for your brand?
If you’re needing ideas check out our Brand Experience Case Studies that have won awards in areas of excellence in Brand spaces.
There are some key ways in which investing in your brand can build even greater value. Use these points as a basis to evaluate the desired effect of your marketing activity. In addition to the tactical benefit your looking to evoke, align them to the greater benefits available to your brand.
1) Encourage more people to buy the brand
When customers are very familiar with your brand, you feel like a safe choice. There's a reason McDonald's is a safe food haven when travelling abroad. Part of their brand is the consistency that they have been able to deliver. Iconic and meaningful brands enjoy this benefit.
2) Encourage more people to buy the brand at a higher price
When choosing between two similar products, the trusted choice wins. People will happily pay more for a product that they feel can more likely guarantee the result. Past experience, or established trust, are the most powerful drivers of price premium.
3) Encourage them to keep buying from you
When you can offer new products of equal or better value to the ones that they are already happily choosing you for, you make it easy for customers to choose you before considering any other brand. This is a financial lever driving potential.
4) Encourage them to buy from you for new occasions or in new categories
Similarly, when you've established belief in your brand and associated products, people will feel that other products and services you offer will offer the same quality and value and they don't have to risk another brand's offer.
5) Do all of the above, yet more effectively
When you consciously focus on creating greater value for your customers, they will see you as their best and only choice. This doesn't necessarily involve greater financial outlay, just awareness of your choices.
I often give talks in the Marketing departments of organisations and I am always left baffled by how members of the same team often have a very different opinion about what makes their brand ‘Meaningfully Different’.
It makes me think how can a brand be well aligned and with a single minded standpoint in the market place if members of the same organisation understand the brand in entirely different ways! But, it happens. Staff come and go, brand guidelines are lost, the market changes and brands often transmute to meet those new market demands and it is in that transmutation that things often get murky.
This lack of brand clarity not only breeds internal inefficiencies but also makes for a very shaky foundation for which to build a brands promise. But, it is never too late to get back on track. We have helped create over $40m in brand equity from companies that were in the same position and decided to do something about it.
It is the same motivation that makes them buy from you that should be the engine behind what you do, what you say and how you make your customers feel.
All successful businesses create products that make people’s lives easier, allowing them to achieve their goals faster, use their time better or keep them safer.
Whether you’re a kitchen tool manufacturer creating better home cooks, an equipment hire company making life easier for construction companies, or an iconic ferry service making the journey part of the entertainment, they all achieve their aspirations by being easily chosen by everyone that benefits from their offer.
And your identity is how customers will recognise you and learn to trust your presence in their lives as a beneficial one. So it’s essential to business success.
We’ve created iconic and trusted brand identities for some of the most well known global brands.
Iconika has been chosen by some globally recognised brands, not just for our creativity, but importantly for the value our work creates for business.