PE Start-Ups & Spin-Outs: Guide to Approaching Branding for New Private Equity Firms

January 2, 2023     |     Darien Group

Who Are Start-Up and Spin-Out Private Equity Firms?

Starting a new private equity firm, whether it’s a start-up or a spin-out, is most commonly initiated by a person or a group of individuals leaving their current employment to branch out independently. Drawing lessons from the history of private equity, many of today’s renowned firms were born from such departures from investment banks or industry giants like Blackstone. Firms such as these, which began as ventures of ambitious individuals, have now grown to be among the world’s largest. Over the years, we have had the privilege of partnering with 20 to 30 such firms, playing a small part in their early stages of maturation.

Table of Contents:

Branding Challenges for Private Equity Start-Ups and Spin-Outs

Typically, the individuals striking out on their own face immediate needs and challenges. They often dive straight into their first fundraise, a considerable task whether or not they already have anchor investors lined up. A first fundraise, without a demonstrable track record or financial backing, is typically more challenging than the second, third, or fourth. Many founders at this stage are bootstrapping, handling every expense out of their own pockets as they work from a blank slate with respect to branding and materials. From framing their brand message to producing essential documents like fundraising and marketing materials, creating a website, and developing a visual brand identity, the tasks can be daunting, and human resources scarce.

Branding Opportunities for PE Start-Ups and Spin-Outs

Smaller Team Structure

Working with private equity start-ups and spin-outs can be both exciting and challenging. The smaller team structure often means decision-making is faster, and there’s less need for consensus-building among various departments or stakeholders. Most of the time, the key executives, perhaps one to three individuals, are our primary contacts. They generally have a firm idea of what they want, often having settled on a name for the firm and a vision for the next 3-5 years. Our role is to help them articulate their vision, establish messaging, and develop a visual brand identity.

Brand Flexibility 

Start-ups or spin-outs may not have the same content options as larger firms. For example, they may not have a portfolio or a large team to feature on their website. Track record is always a question; how do you describe a pre-fund track record, or has their been attribution granted from a prior firm? 

A spinout’s visual brand expression often takes on a more abstract direction, relying on custom-created visual assets or stock imagery to communicate the firm’s philosophy or purpose through a visual metaphor. This approach offers flexibility, allowing the brand identity to evolve as the firm grows and matures, and avoids the need for assets such as portfolio company imagery which may not at this point exist.

Tailored Support for Success

Our partnership brings to light numerous opportunities for start-ups and spin-outs. We offer comprehensive support in their foundational phase, addressing the critical needs for brand development, marketing strategy, and support toward workflows that would typically fall under investor relations. 

We also provide bespoke services tailored to each company’s unique situation and objectives. Our expertise can help these firms navigate initial challenges, streamline processes, and position themselves strongly in the competitive landscape. By leveraging our resources and experience, these new ventures can focus more on their core business, thus accelerating their journey toward growth and success.

The Branding Process for New Private Equity Firms

Logo Design

Creating a brand identity is an essential part of the new firm journey. Branding starts with logo design, which should give viewers an immediate sense of who the firm is and what they stand for. The logo should be versatile enough to accommodate various website layouts as well as other marketing materials such as brochures, business cards, and signage.

Consistent Brand Identity 

Brand identity should be consistent across all marketing materials. A style guide should be created to ensure colors, fonts, logos, and other visual elements are used in the same way throughout the private equity firm’s website and other collateral. This helps maintain a level of uniformity that will help establish trust with stakeholders.

Expanding Brand Identity 

At the same time, a brand should be given room to grow and evolve. As a firm advances and matures, their brand identity should also reflect the progress that has been made. This could include new messaging or visual elements, as well as changes to an existing logo design. It is important for firms to think about how their branding can continue to develop over time, and the ways in which it can be used to communicate their progress.

Brand Identity: More Than Aesthetics

Finally, creating a brand identity is not just about making something aesthetically pleasing – it’s an exercise that impacts all aspects of a firm’s business. Branding provides direction on how to communicate information effectively, how to position a company in the market, and even how certain decisions are made.

Branding a New Private Equity Website

Every new manager needs a website, but it should be different from that of a long-tenured manager. For a new manager:

  • The website usually doesn’t feature a comprehensive portfolio or a large team 
  • The history and news sections are usually minimal

Hence, we often recommend a single-scroll website for newer managers. This approach for new private equity websites is faster, less expensive, and takes less time to build than a full-fledged site with multiple internal pages.

For managers needing an even quicker solution, a splash page can be a good alternative. This is a single pane of branded information, featuring the name of the firm, the logo, an image, and contact information. It provides a valuable online presence, while more comprehensive website development can happen at a later time.

In conclusion, helping new managers navigate their journey is an exciting process. Their innovative ideas and conviction in their value proposition make the process rewarding. And while the road might be full of challenges and adventures, with the right guidance, the journey can be a path to great success.

Branding New Private Equity Investor Presentations

Investor presentations are a critical component of the fundraising process for all funds, including start-ups and spin-outs. These presentations serve as the first formal introduction of the private  firm’s vision, strategy, and business model to potential investors. It is, therefore, imperative that these presentations are crafted with careful consideration and an understanding of the firm’s unique selling propositions.

In the early stages, private equity start-ups and spin-outs often lack a comprehensive portfolio or a substantial track record. Hence, these presentations must focus on illustrating the firm’s future potential and the team’s prowess and experience. They should explain how the firm plans to create value for investors.

The presentation should be:

  • Visually appealing and easy to understand
  • Avoiding excessive jargon and focusing on key messages
  • Full of credibility and professionalism, as this is the firm’s first opportunity to earn investors’ trust and confidence. 

A well-crafted presentation can significantly aid in securing crucial funding to propel the firm towards its strategic goals.

Empowering New Private Equity Firms with Branding: Darien Group’s Mission

Starting (and growing) a private equity firm is an exciting, and sometimes challenging journey. By understanding the unique needs of start-ups or spin-outs, we can help equip them with the right tools to succeed on their path.

Darien Group strives to bring these new ventures one step closer to reaching their goals and redefining the industry. 


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