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Brand Building

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Few companies realize the impact a solid corporate brand can have on Wall Street. While fund managers and equity analysts may say that brand is soft and emotional and doesn't fit with the hard, rational data they use when they look at a company, today's market realities are less rational then ever.

Today, market volatility is greater than ever before. Market forces are more obscure. Complexity rules. Our recent research, titled "Life On The Street," which we conducted with analysts and fund managers, revealed that these groups have never been more uneasy about evaluating and projecting the financial potential of the firms they track.

And while business fundamentals remain critical, in a market of unprecedented uncertainty, factors such as faith in corporate leadership, clarity of business purpose, clear understanding of global strategies, strong commitment to ethics and delivering on promises made are also indicators of a company's future performance. And these factors are key to a strategic, corporate brand effort.

With so much information available in this information age, analysts and fund managers believe it is their job to keep up with "everything available" to keep their hands on the pulse—and that includes monitoring blogs. But not all information is equal, or accurate. A negative story does not necessarily mean a company is in trouble, but it is being heard, evaluated and reacted to in real time.

Without an overarching and consistent voice, today's news is the latest intelligence, and it can take on a life of its own far from the truth.

But by proactively and consistently telling the brand story, the brand becomes bigger than the story of the day. It creates a reference against which the noise of the marketplace can be evaluated.

A focused brand communications program can become a meaningful lens through which the financial community views a company.

Steve Loranger, CEO of ITT, a Doremus client, has said that ITT's "Engineered for Life" branding campaign "helps our organization and those people we do business with understand how we are advancing human progress through our employees and the technological solutions they make possible. It is our story and I tell it around the world, including to our important financial audiences."

A corporate brand story goes beyond advertising. It is everything you do and say about the company. When done well, it is powerful and valuable. And even those on the Street are moved by it.

Howard Sherman is the managing director of Doremus New York. He can be reached at hsherman@doremus.com.

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