There is a new acronym used in investment circles: BANG. That means Blackberry, AMC, Nokia and Gamestop, four companies that epitomize the phenomenon of memes stocks, or stocks that are gaining traction and investors in large part thanks to the social media hype.
This investment in social media to meet culture and retail has exploded over the past year, thanks to an increase in app popularity fueled by the pandemic making it easier for people to invest. Individual investors opened more than 10 million investment accounts in 2020, and that only intensified at the start of this year.
Amid this volatility, Fintech Startup Public is launching its very first branding campaign and new brand identity that presents the app as a place to balance the current hype of retail investing with the community and long-term stability. “People could come and invest in GameStop, but after using the product, are they building a suitable portfolio? Says co-founder and co-CEO Leif Abraham. “This is our goal. It’s about creating long-term investors, not just people who want to bet on a quick stock. It is about making the stock market a consumer product, but not purely speculative, also on the side of building proper portfolios.
In January, thanks to the hype on forums like Reddit’s WallStreetBets, Gamestop stock jumped 1,600% and AMC stock is up 2,400% this year. The cinema chain made the buzz this week in offer investors free popcorn. Online retail investing, where non-professional people buy and sell securities through brokerage firms, has been popular since the first dotcom boom.remember the monkey E-Trade? —But this new wave has struck amid a convergence of mobile apps and social media virality.
Public has positioned itself as what it calls a “social investing app,” which allows users to track other people’s portfolios while getting information from analysts for companies and industries. Abraham uses a gym metaphor to describe it as the equivalent of an investment in having a personal trainer and gym buddies to help motivate you. It was launched in September 2019 and raised $ 220 million in February, which boosted its valuation to $ 1.2 billion.
The new campaign, created with New York-based agency Worx, features photos of real public users and a snapshot of their portfolios. We see Milana, who invests in Tesla, Google and Zoom; Mick, who invests in Shopify, Twitter and Farfetch; and Riana, which invests in AMD, Google and Square. The models are cool, young, and diverse, and the ads use Helvetica font and lots of white space, giving them a American clothing vibe, without all the sex.
The new logo, designed by Studio Mococo, has two simple blue circles of different sizes. Studio Mococo co-founder and executive creative director Martin Grasser said the goal is to create an identity that embodies the purpose of the product. “At its core, the differentiation of Public lies in its diverse community,” says Grasser. “In the new logo and branding system, the two circles remind us of the friendly chat bubbles we all know and love, while also invoking a metaphor for financial growth. Together they also make a P and nod to the name of the company.
The meme stock hype has been coupled with some bro-y culture, the jokes inside and slang of WallStreetBets, and the Confetti-brimming gamification of investing on Robinhood. Abraham says the purpose of this campaign is to illustrate how Public is different. According to Public, its over 1 million users are 40% women, 45% POC, 90% newbie investors and 90% long-term investors. “You can come from Twitter or Reddit to find out about AMC and Gamestop, and then Public introduces you to a different investment culture,” says Abraham.
This belies another big difference between Public and many other popular retail investing apps, namely that Public doesn’t rely on the somewhat controversial control flow model (PFOF), which essentially prompts apps to push users to invest as much and as often as possible, focusing on quantity rather than quality. In December, Robinhood agreed to pay the SEC a $ 65 million fine to resolve charges that have misled customers about PFOF. Public withdrew PFOF from its activities in February.
Just as Public encourages its users to balance their investments between the trending stocks and a long-term stable portfolio, the company’s branding work straddles the serious and the silly. To mark the abandonment of PFOF, Public asked Michael Bolton to sing it in a series of wacky digital videos.
Abraham co-founder and co-CEO Jannick Malling says they see all of the company’s movement as part of its brand communication, which informs everything from the new logo to its investors. “In the beginning, we took the investment from Will Smith, JJ Watt and Tony Hawk, and when people see them involved it helps build a more mainstream product,” says Malling. “Even recently, we rolled out a feature called Town Hall, which is our version of an AMA, and kind of like a retail version of a results call.”
The audience’s Town Hall in April introduced Lemonade co-founder Shai Wininger and Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. Malling says it’s part of the educational component of the business that aims to turn new users into long-term investors. “If you only have one stock with no education, then it’s all speculative,” says Malling. “But if you have action and a meaningful education then this movement that we are seeing can be a massive force for good.”
Ordinary investors do not often have the opportunity to speak directly with the executives of publicly traded companies. It is time to change that.
Today we’re launching Town Hall, which connects our members with the founders and CEOs of companies they believe in. pic.twitter.com/hHPNcIagIE
– Public.com (@public) April 22, 2021
Abraham says this new generation of investors who have flocked to the market have more complex criteria for the companies they want to invest in, a criterion that is more based on business strategy, corporate culture and the direction of the world. than the most recent quarterly results.
“They’re a lot more long-term, and there’s also an aspect of voting with your dollars, and where they want the world to go,” says Abraham. “It’s a representation of their identity. And this is also something that we want to convey with our brand.