Don’t Be "Institutional". Be Professional, Credible and Inspiring Instead.


A controversial title, perhaps, but the industry has gone too far confusing “institutional” with “uninteresting.” Having spent years building marketing materials for the alternative investment industry, as far as I can tell being “institutional” means that you dilute your message to the point where you are uninspiring, that you mirror the language of your competitors, avoid anything with aesthetic appeal, and drown the reader with information.

It can be compared to being labeled “corporate.” I don’t know about you, but I haven’t encountered too many positive connotations associated with that label. It is something that is bestowed on you when you have become so big that politics and bureaucracy don’t allow for you to be anything but.

Sure, if you are a monster manager you have no choice but to be “institutional.” If you are IBM you are going to be corporate. That said show me a company in any industry that set out to be “corporate.” Show me a situation where the strategy of being “corporate” displaced a competitor.

You move up in the world by being dynamic, innovative and responsive.

Do you associate such things with being “institutional?” I sure don’t.

Marketers need to stop hiding behind the word “institutional”. It is hugely limiting. Managers tend to think they need to look a certain way or use certain words if they are to be considered "institutional". I will let you in on a secret, you don’t. More to the point, that mindset is holding you back.

Are you professional? Are you credible? Is your story inspiring? If the answer to all those questions is yes, stop worrying about what Bridgewater is doing. Use the words you want to use, look the way you want to look, be respectful, and go raise some money.

By Kyle Dunn

MarketingKyle Dunn