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For Private Equity and VC firms, reputation is everything. And it starts with the brand.

Unlocking the Power of Branding and Marketing in Private Equity and Venture Capital

Kate Watts is CEO of Long Dash. She formerly founded Faire Design and held the role of president, U.S. at the global agency Huge.

In the public markets, the value of a brand is fairly well understood. A strong brand can enhance the perceived value of a company’s products to consumers and its economic outlook to investors. Think Apple and Tesla.

In the private markets, a strong brand creates a premium on valuations. If two companies make roughly the same product with roughly the same balance sheet and growth trajectory, investors are more likely to be attracted to those with stronger brand value, however they define it. Stripe or Canva may come to mind. 

Less clear? The role of brands in private equity and venture capital. Conventional wisdom is that this sector has less to gain from brand and marketing than the companies they invest in. It’s an industry of relationships, industry knowledge, strategy, and timing. Reputation matters, for sure, but less attention is typically paid to traditional brand elements—visual identity, messaging, marketing, communications. 

We view this as an oversight. Branding and marketing are not just add-ons to the core functions of private equity and venture capital firms. As tools for expanding networks, attracting talent, and differentiating in a crowded landscape, they are essential to sustained growth. 

If you work in venture capital or private equity, you are in many ways selling a product. For portfolio companies it’s your capital, sure, but also your partnership, expertise, support, and network. For investors, you are selling an investment product—a specific approach to turning capital into more capital. To truly capture your firm’s value proposition, you need to communicate why those “products” matter. 

Branding and marketing are not just add-ons to the core functions of private equity and venture capital firms. As tools for expanding networks, attracting talent, and differentiating in a crowded landscape, they are essential to sustained growth.

This is ever more important as the private equity and venture capital industries become more competitive. The growth of the last decade and the emergence of web3 and AI are attracting more players to the space, while high interest rates are limiting deal flow. And influencer investors savvy with the tools of modern media are building their own followings bigger than that of institutional investors. All of this means there is less recognition available for a growing number of firms. 

Private equity and venture capital can no longer get by solely on relationships and strong financial performance. They have to create a distinct brand identity and put it into action via an insight-driven owned media strategy that can attract top talent, entrepreneurs, investors, and media. In this sector, good branding and marketing isn’t about making a plea to anyone who will listen. It’s about making your company sought out by the right people.

We’ve worked on both sides of the PE/VC sector. We’ve supported investment firms in embracing the value of their brand and we’ve supported portfolio companies in enhancing their value and growth through the power of brand and marketing. Here are a few themes that define successful brand and marketing in this space.

Your brand is your investment thesis for the world. Every firm knows its biggest wins, how much money it’s raised, its rate of return—the key metrics to show success. But if every firm is touting the same metrics, these (very impressive!) results can start to feel like table stakes. A distinct brand narrative builds on the firm’s success outcomes and carves out a unique market position and point-of-view. This narrative is a vehicle for communicating the firm’s success, and also its investing thesis. It concisely and forcefully explains why the firm does what it does and how it will achieve results. 

A few examples: 


A strong brand narrative is a concise set of messages that captures the firm’s unique expertise and market position, supported by proof points. And, critically, it should be crafted “audience-first.” It should resonate with current and prospective employees, portfolio founders, and investors as much as it resonates with the firm’s partners. 

Differentiate through your expertise—and your experts. Private equity and venture capital firms have a concentration of expertise perhaps greater than any other type of organization. They are led by successful people with decades of industry experience and attract the best and brightest talent. This knowledge and the people that hold it are the firm’s most valuable brand assets—more so than any single deal or success metric. Sharing that expertise builds credibility and highlighting experts gives audiences a window into what it’s like to work with the firm. 

Your brand is your investment thesis for the world.

Brand leaders in this sector are managing not just their firm’s brand, but a portfolio of individual brands within the firm. As Kyle Harrison of Contrary Capital says: “Firm brand is still powerful. But the partner brand is perhaps becoming more powerful. If a particular partner is really good, they could very well compete with another firm when it comes to getting into a deal. You might see the perfect person at a lesser known firm successfully competing with an unknown person at Sequoia and win the deal. That’s new.” This extends to portfolio founders as well. Often the best advocates for your firm are the people you invest in. 

It’s no surprise then that many of the firms with the most well-known brands are the ones that invest the most in owned content and promoting their leaders. The owned content playbook may include: 

  • An incisive, data-driven essay or presentation on a specific market or category
  • An in-depth story about a successful deal (or perhaps even more interesting, an unsuccessful one)
  • A thoughtful Q&A with a portfolio founder that reflects the kinds of conversations you have at a sushi restaurant (vs. a corporate blog post)
  • A partner-led newsletter that captures the conversations, inspirations, and insights they use to gain an edge

These are the things that attract audiences to you for your insight, which are as likely to create the next big deal opportunity as any other marketing effort. 

Your brand is your best networking tool. Private equity is a relationships business, sure, and that will never change. But without a strong brand presence, those relationships will always be limited by the capacity of the individuals on your team. A strong brand is a force multiplier for growing your firm’s network. It takes an upfront investment, but when a well-articulated narrative is defined and out in the world, it’s expanding your reach and reputation while you focus on deals, relationships, and outcomes. 

A strong brand that articulates your track record and expertise will precede you. It’s an always-on, always-evolving pitch, which beats a pitch deck every time. 

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