“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” U.S. President Harry Truman famously said it to his war contracts team. CEO’s prepping for an IPO deploy it with their marketers. 

While 2023 was not a hot year for IPOs, market momentum is building, with Q3 having witnessed a notable improvement in post-IPO share price performance compared with previous quarters. According to a recent EY IPO report, the global IPO market has seen shifting dynamics, including improved investor sentiment in the major Western economies and the prospect of high-profile US mega-IPOs in 2024.

The heat is turning up, and the kitchen is getting crowded – once again. 

Many IPOs the world has been waiting on—potential mega-IPOs like SpaceX, Stripe and Databricks—are poised to start trading in the New Year. It’s great news for hungry global investors who are more cash rich than ever, but the growing options and expectations have turned up the pressure on marketers. 

How can we stand out? Do people understand our value? How do we keep momentum after day one?  Every executive, journalist, potential investor and employee turned-future-millionaire are breathing down their necks. 

IPO preparation is typically focused on financials; corporate governance, listing protocols, and publishing sensitive data keep people up at night. But those who truly win see beyond. Successful IPOs prepare their brands with the same care and attention as their balance sheets.  

Here’s a simple checklist to ensure your brand is fit to fight on the big day. Because the heat is coming whether you’re ready or not. 

1. A descriptor that’s engaging, clear and repeatable 

Nightmare reporting reads The latest unicorn, Another fintech orThey do health stuff.Brands can combat misrepresentation by projecting a simple descriptor that journalists, investors, employees and onlookers can use over and over. GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor foundry and the largest tech IPO of 2022, marked a significant financial achievement by surpassing their initial raise target of $2.6B. We partnered to develop the brand pre-IPO and since going public, the company has experienced a consistent upward trajectory. Explaining their intricate industry to a broader audience has been a challenge, but CEO Thomas Caulfield emphasized the transformative nature of the company. Caulfield remarked, “Our business has evolved, and we needed a clear, resonant message.” They embraced a concise descriptor, positioning themselves as leaders in “Delivering a new era of more.” While not universally familiar, this branding resonates strongly within the semiconductor industry, offering a clear signal to potential investors and industry insiders alike.

2. An achievable, purpose-driven story

Profits come from brands that reach people in a meaningful way. The mission doesn’t have to be lofty, but it does have to be relevant, authentic and clear on how the brand achieves it. Xpeng, the Chinese electric car brand, is one of several start-ups dubbed “Tesla fighters.” Xpeng separates from the crowd through a bold purpose, to “drive Smart EV transformation with technology and data, and shape the mobility experience of the future.” It’s both noble and realistic. They use ownable language like Smart EV with Internet DNA to build the confidence they will achieve their aim—shaping the future while delivering profits now. It’s partly why they shattered expectations, raising $1.5B when they started trading on the NYSE in 2020.

3. An unforgettable identity

The ‘how’ of your brand can be as powerful as the what and why. The language a brand uses, the visuals it evokes and even a clever brand name can build intrigue and excitement to rise above. Klarna is a name that sounds straight out of a medical dictionary or IKEA catalogue. The Swedish payments superstar has already brought together an uncanny money pot that includes Sequoia Capital, H&M and Snoop Dogg. Their tone of voice and visual identity are just as weird. A mix of direct language “Pay Later with Klarna” with the quirky “Slice up your payment with Klarna” pitches a broad tent. With a bright, bold pink color and imagery of the stylish youth that use it, the brand attracts with swagger in the same way it will reach global investors. It’s no wonder people are salivating over the IPO, which is slated for 2024. 

4. A solid framework to scale

IPOs are preceded and succeeded by rapid growth in revenues, geographies and headcount. The foundational aspects of a brand are vital, but they’re nothing without a foundational brand, proper management, and engagement. In the early 2000s, Tata’s group of companies united under an iconic brand, becoming a symbol of Indian industry (a brand we helped develop). Playing in technology, industrials and more, the consistency of Tata Group’s brand worked across varying value propositions. When Tata Technologies became the second group company to IPO in November 2023, it was the largest of the year, and introduced itself as a mature brand with an $18B market cap in Day 1. 

When a company begins the IPO conversation, chances are brand is not at the top of the list, if it’s even on the list. It can be a challenging conversation to update a long-held brand or refine a founder’s napkin-scratched baby. But through simple steps and the right preparations, marketers can handle any kitchen they face when preparing their brand for IPO success. 

So, go ahead market, turn up the heat and let’s get cooking!