The new brand of The Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute (the Institute) went live last month. Your journal, redesigned and relaunched as CGj, introduces the new brand and looks at what it will mean for the Institute and its members in the years ahead.
The Institute’s latest rebranding project, which culminated in the launch of its new logo, tagline and brand identity on 20 January 2022, was anything but routine. The roles of governance professionals, together with the operating environment within which they work, have gone through significant changes since the Institute’s previous branding exercise in 2006. Moreover, the profession itself has gone through a major transition that has changed both the designation of practitioners and the name of the professional body to which they belong.
While these developments are well understood by members and stakeholders of the profession, they have been less visible to wider society. ‘We should consider how the public in general perceives the Institute and the governance professional,’ said the Institute’s new President Ernest Lee FCG HKFCG(PE), interviewed in this journal’s In Profile column last month. ‘I hope to help broaden the awareness of the community, not just our stakeholders in the business world, of the roles that our members play and the positive impact we have,’ Mr Lee said.
The launch of the Institute’s new brand last month will make that task a lot easier. The Institute’s Immediate Past President, Gillian Meller FCG HKFCG(PE) believes that, with the new brand in place, the Institute is well placed to give the governance role of its members wider recognition. ‘I hope that the new brand will enable us to communicate to the wider Hong Kong community the role that governance professionals can play in terms of the road to a better corporate world and future,’ she says.
Key elements of the new brand
1. Governance specialists
The new brand highlights the role of the Institute’s members as governance specialists. In today’s operating environment, the complexity of boardroom decision-making has increased significantly and this has led to an ever-greater demand for highly qualified governance experts to advise the board on matters relevant to compliance and governance. This aspect of their roles has been promoted by regulators in Hong Kong, who have highlighted the role played by company secretaries in guiding and facilitating the training of directors. Company secretaries are now regarded as senior management in Hong Kong’s Listing Rules and can be held accountable for corporate governance failures.
Moreover, the role of company secretaries in promoting governance best practice is hardwired into Hong Kong’s legislative and regulatory regime. The Listing Rules and the Corporate Governance Code stipulate that the company secretary is a key governance adviser to the board and is responsible for updating the board on the latest laws and regulations relevant to the company in areas such as stakeholder engagement, environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, and organisational purpose and culture.
Good governance, however, requires the expertise of a wide variety of players. In addition to company secretaries, other professional practitioners (mainly lawyers and accountants) and a range of other players, including directors, risk managers, compliance officers, legal counsels and CFOs, are joining the Institute. ‘Our members increasingly come from more diverse backgrounds, but they all work under the governance banner,’ says Institute Chief Executive Ellie Pang FCG HKFCG.
2. Trusted advisers
The Institute’s new brand also highlights the role of the governance professional as the moral compass of the organisation he or she works for. This theme is illustrated by the Institute’s new ‘compass’ logo. The orange upward pointing ‘A’ of ‘Chartered’ in the ‘Chartered Governance Hong Kong’ logo represents an upward-pointing compass needle.
This aspect of the role has become a lot more complex since the Institute’s previous branding exercise in 2006, as the shift to stakeholder capitalism and the greater focus on organisations’ ESG practices and policies has accelerated. Moreover, as new technologies increasingly enable the administrative side of the role to be automated, this strategic side of the role has grown in importance. Governance professionals contribute a much wider strategic input into the board decision-making process, advising not only on internal controls and regulatory compliance frameworks, but on diverse issues including managing climate risk, setting ESG targets and adapting to the changing expectations of the organisations’ key stakeholders.
This broader concept of good governance brings value, not only to organisations themselves, but also to wider society – hence the Institute’s new tagline – ‘Better Governance. Better Future’. Ms Meller points out that this new tagline provides the Institute with a highly concise mission statement going forward.
‘As the gatekeepers of the rules, practices and processes by which organisations are governed, we help make sure organisations do things right, but we also help make sure organisations do the right thing. As highly qualified governance experts, we help them navigate an increasingly complex corporate world. Our bigger purpose is to protect the interests of all an organisation’s stakeholders and to shape a better future,’ she says.
Rising to the challenge
The launch of the Institute’s new brand comes at the end of a long process of transition as a result of the repositioning exercise that the Institute, together with the Chartered Governance Institute (the Institute’s international body), has been implementing. Readers of this journal will be familiar with the key milestones in this journey, including the adoption of the new Chartered Secretary and Chartered Governance Professional designation by the Institute’s members in 2018, the launch of the Institute’s updated Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme in early 2020 and the renaming of the Institute in 2021.
So is that transition now complete? Ms Meller points out that, while the Institute’s formal transition may be complete, the profession will continue to evolve as governance evolves.
‘There has never been a better time to be a governance professional and I hope that our members can take advantage of the rebranding exercise to better communicate the value that they can add to their organisations and, through this, to continue to develop their roles and advance their careers,’ she says.
In this sense, the new brand is not only about improving the Institute’s external brand recognition, it will also have benefits internally in terms of giving governance professionals greater confidence to carry out their roles. The new tagline, for example, is aspirational in terms of highlighting the broader role that good governance can play in contributing to a better future for all an organisation’s stakeholders, but it also recognises that governance is something which is constantly evolving in response to changing internal and external environments.
The new brand will also help by improving the brand recognition of the Institute itself. ‘The Institute promotes a global gold standard in corporate governance,’ Ms Pang says. ‘Having the backing of a respected, global professional body will make a lot of difference to the confidence of Institute’s members in carrying out their roles.’
She adds that the launch of the new brand should not be looked at as the end of a process, but as the beginning of a new chapter. There is a lot of work ahead for the Institute, for example, to stay agile to the evolving needs of its members and students, ensuring that they have the education, training and other services they need to succeed as the governance professionals of the future.
SIDEBAR: Growing into our new name
Edith Shih FCG(CS, CGP) HKFCG(CS, CGP)(PE), The Chartered Governance Institute Past International President, and Institute Past President; Executive Director and Company Secretary, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd, has pioneered and mentored the Institute’s transition to its new name and identity. Interviewed by CGj about the launch of the Institute’s new brand, she highlights below the work ahead for the Institute and its members.
What for you is the significance of the launch of the new brand of The Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute (the Institute)?
‘The launch of the new brand is the first step into a new era of governance for the Institute. It underpins our professional transaformation into Chartered Governance Professionals and highlights the enlarged remit of our profession – better governance leads to a better future, starting with the corporate arena but having wider impacts on society and the world at large.’
In the past, the profession has had relatively low brand awareness among the wider public – do you think the new brand can turn that around?
‘With the right name for the profession and the Institute, the understanding and awareness among the wider public should improve. The Institute of course has to do its part in promoting the new name and brand, and now is the best time – as we launch our new brand.’
What for you are the key messages of the Institute’s new tagline and logo?
‘The Institute’s new tagline (Better Governance. Better Future.) exemplifies its paramount impetus promoting and practising governance. The Institute strives to make an impact on different aspects of our society – be it corporate, non-profit, charitable, academic, government, religious, recreational, etc – helping to instil proper governance in our society at large. The Institute’s new compass logo underscores our role in pointing to the right direction, the proper behaviour, the appropriate conduct – to better governance.’
The new brand comes at the end of a long transition process that has seen the Institute acquire a new name and its members acquire a new designation – do you think the profession’s ‘transition to governance’ is now complete?
‘The hardware of transitioning the profession to governance is in place, with the revamp of the examination scheme leading to the new qualification, as well as the proper naming of the Institute and the necessary constitutional and regulatory/legal amendments. But our focus should be on our new journey to ensure that we are what we call ourselves. Many of our members are already governance professionals due to the nature of the work they do, but not all of our members have become governance professionals overnight after the name change or the launch of the new brand. Some of those members who have more company secretary–orientated roles will grow deeper into the governance role as their work remit expands. The Institute needs to provide continuing education with the appropriate focus and content for its members.’
Going forward, what is your advice to members in terms of how to grow into their status as governance professionals and to the Institute in terms of how it can build its leadership position in governance?
‘The Chartered Governance Institute (global), from which The Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute (divisional) derives its status, is the only chartered governance institute in the world. So we possess leadership status that no other institute is able to attain. However, it predicates upon the Institute to continuously ensure that our mission, our thought leadership and our qualification scheme are well founded, and that all of our activities (be they professional or promotional) are built, on governance.’
SIDEBAR: Introducing your new-look journal and website
The Institute’s journal and website, as critical parts of the Institute’s communications, have been redesigned to follow the ethos of the new brand and visual identity.
This month’s edition of the Institute’s journal, redesigned and relaunched as CGj, showcases the Institute’s new brand. The journal’s new name stands for ‘Chartered Governance journal’, in keeping with the profession’s transition to the governance banner. The journal’s redesign follows the visual identity guidelines of the new brand, developed by the Institute and Eight Partnership Ltd, incorporating a new colour palette and font. The new colour palette matches that of the Chartered Governance Institute (the Institute’s international body) with its distinctive shades of blue and orange, and the new font (the roman typeface Lato) shifts the visual identity closer to the online, rather than the print, context. This is in keeping with the plain speaking, people-centric character of the new brand. Regarding the editorial tone of the journal, the new brand guidelines reinforce the need to communicate via plain, easy-to-understand language.
The redesign of the Institute’s website, launched on 20 January 2022, has brought in significant changes to the site’s structure and visual appeal. Some changes will be immediately apparent to frequent visitors. In addition to the brand guidelines’ new colour palette and font, discussed above, the redesign has made much more use of innovative typography and images, helping to bring more clarity and focus to the pages.
Perhaps most significant, however, are the structural changes that have been made. The site not only functions as a resource and platform for students and members of the Institute, it is also a calling card for the Institute and the profession as a whole.
‘An organisation’s website needs to work as a standalone communication tool. It needs to state in as clear and understandable way as possible what the organisation is about,’ says Edward Williams, General Manager at Moni Media Ltd, the firm that worked with the Institute’s Secretariat on the redesign project. ‘The focus has been on adopting a structure which raises content to the surface, and creates new and intuitive pathways leading users from the top-level of the site progressively into the detail of the various sections. We also wanted to remove dead ends within the website, and so within each page you will see routes/links into other relevant or related content, allowing users to also “move sideways” through the site.’
This pyramid structure of the content, together with the clear labels and categorisation, aims to ensure that all visitors, with or without prior knowledge of the Institute, can browse and navigate their way easily to more detail the further they explore. In addition, the homepage and landing pages for each section also act as springboards into content, allowing users to immediately understand the various options available to them within the site or section, and access that content quickly.