A brand is one of the important components within a company's reputation management strategy. South African central securities depository, Strate, recognises its investment in its reputation, seeking to own a brand that aligns to its message of instilling trust and confidence among its stakeholders in the financial market.
Brand consistency and the efforts to maintain quality and control of the corporate identity, through centralised brand management, ensure compliance and cost savings.
In a two-month project in which CompuBrand, a Britehouse software business unit, standardised and made 15 intelligent document templates for Strate, the central securities depository deepened its own compliance, risk mitigation and credibility.
Strate is internationally recognised as an independent financial market infrastructure (FMI) providing custody, settlement and data services to stakeholders. In the process, it contributes to South Africa's standing as an investment destination of choice.
Owned by South Africa's big four banks, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Citibank, Strate uses state-of-the-art technology, its international expertise and its risk management framework to support and promote the safety and efficiency of the country's financial markets.
The company provides electronic settlement of equities and bond transactions concluded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It also settles transactions in money market securities and has recently introduced a collateral management service. It offers an asset servicing product range that augments the services it offers to issuers in terms of the Companies Act (2008) and the Financial Markets Act ((FMA) 2012).
"As with most companies, however, in spite of its business and technological sophistication, Strate had an Achilles heel with regard to its corporate documentation," says Julia Coulson, founder and director of CompuBrand, a company that provides software solutions for managing brand standards and content within documents and electronic communication, also creating intelligent and automated MS Office documents.
"There is a tendency to think that branding on letterheads, proposals, e-mails, and other documents in daily use is simply a hygiene factor; that consistency of the way the branding is applied across all documents is a nice to have rather than a direct contributor to the bottom line, to risk mitigation, and to corporate integrity.
"In fact, if you don't have a system whereby employees are prevented from applying the corporate identity in random ways and whereby governance factors, such as the list of directors and company registration, are strictly controlled, then your company is at both financial and compliance risk.
"Strate recognised this and set about putting in place a system of templates that would enforce the correct use of its corporate information on documentation and maintain its corporate identity in the correct and desirable form."
The templates, created by Compubrand in Microsoft Office, have been rolled out over all of Strate's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint instances. They have been loaded into SharePoint, which Strate uses as its Intranet, and the company's 150 employees have been trained on how to access and use them.
The business benefits
Strate's head of project innovation and business services, Tanya Knowles, says that although CompuBrand has proprietary software that enables organisations to put on their users' screen a ribbon from which they can then access and use templates, as a relatively small company, Strate did not feel the need for the full system.
"For us, as an FSB licensed entity, the main business benefit we were looking for was the ease of governance in our corporate documentation, and we got this from CompuBrand's capabilities.
For instance, having the assurance that our list of directors would always be up to date on letterheads, or that disclaimers in presentations would be correct, helps us mitigate our own risk.
"It also helps to underpin our risk-management framework, which sits at the core of every service that we provide to the market. Our corporate image and identity is no different and we have to keep walking the talk.
"In that context, CompuBrand gave us the significant additional business benefit of consistent branding across our corporate documentation and communications. We refreshed our brand earlier this year and CompuBrand enabled us to roll out the latest corporate identity within our communication formats and across our applications. Obviously, in terms of marketing collateral, this kind of consistency is important for a number of reasons. In our industry, however, consistency is essential to creating confidence in our products and services.
"CompuBrand also customised their products and services to our budget – and our timelines. And, overall, they have enabled us to maintain our corporate document governance and branding with very few resources."
Samantha Joubert says it was possible to complete the creation of the Eligibility templates in only two months, because of the commitment and close involvement of Strate's team. "We were briefed in-depth and accurately at the beginning, and feedback during the project was immediate and relevant. When a client is that involved, a project goes very smoothly."
CompuBrand provides assistance to Strate, when required for template updates, on a time and materials basis, as defined in a service level agreement.