How The NASDAQ Can Regain Brand Strength

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Since the NASDAQ’s inception, it has been the global leader representing much of the world’s cutting-edge producers of smart innovations and category-busting businesses. Its status was marketed with style.

Until now the NASDAQ always generated healthy profits, but its core stock-trading business is in decline; ironically–given last week’s massive trading outage–its technology has been keeping it profitable. But all told, the NASDAQ has lost its luster and the merger of trading platforms BATS and Direct Edge – two names many of us have never heard of – is likely to supercede the NASDAQ.

Several high-profile blunders have wreaked havoc on the NASDAQ’s reputation among professionals, the media and the public at large. The mishaps have revealed a different and slow-to-react stock exchange than what made it famous. Jeremy Skule SVP and CMO needs to chart a new course for brand NASDAQ.

To do Skule needs to reassert the NASDAQ’s stature by establishing shared values with staff and customers, as these seemed to have come adrift since their halcyon days. To start to repair the damage that will deracinate the NASDAQ’s appeal to future customers, it needs non-financial goals to steer a new course. Without non-financial goals the court of shareholder opinion will weigh heavy. If the market does not believe the in the NASDAQ’s future position in the category, they will not recommend listing with it.

Rebuilding reputation and regaining growth takes a united culture. Skule needs to decide if the NASDAQ is classically structurally led (by Robert Greifeld, CEO) or strategically led. At present Greifeld has made the NASDAQ structurally led (and slow) across its operations. Being strategically led would grant Skule and other senior executives more freedom to make major decisions across the business and boost the NASDAQ brand.

Skule needs to adopt new systems to inspire its culture, a new business pipeline and its brand globally. Consequently greater viability and accountability measures need to be incorporated into the NASDAQ’s communications and reporting systems that have been lacking. They need to ramp up their investments in marketing and innovation that currently are not going to yield the boost that it so badly needs. Many analysts are complaining that even though the NASDAQ has increased its involvement with the press they need a new system for doing things differently, as they believe the NASDAQ’s management never goes into accountability mode.

Success in crisis is not about skills, it’s about attitudes, and the NASDAQ’s culture is accused of being too insular, a culture that has been created from the top-down, evidenced by the hounding Greifeld has been receiving from investors, analysts and the press. The market wants to see a senior management team free to make major decisions that show the NASDAQ’s global reputation management is regaining momentum; this includes staffing and succession plans. The NASDAQ might be struggling, but it’s not folding — its portfolio of customers represents some of the biggest brands in the world that have attracted other major global businesses and top talent.

Skule needs a succinct crisis-management and master brand strategy for the NASDAQ that can help guide the broader business. The humbling descent of the famously disciplined NASDAQ should be a reminder that when times are tough, you build share and accomplish growth with determination, self-reliance and a degree of success that is particularly notable to investors. In these choppy waters, if the NASDAQ is to uphold its leadership status and achieve a level of success that satisfies a vituperative Wall Street, an imaginative and audacious response is critical.


Author: Dean Crutchfield

Builds Brands and Fixes Them When Broken

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