When you hear the words “financial branding”, what comes to your mind?
Perhaps your thoughts concentrate on a logo design for your financial adviser firm, and possibly some corporate stationery and supporting materials – like a client brochure, or folder.
Instinctively, we tend to concentrate on the visual aspects of a brand. Yet these elements, whilst important, are actually physical representations of something deeper.
A “financial services brand”, essentially, refers to your identity – what are you like, and what makes you different from others? What you look like is part of the answer, but it’s not the whole story.
Thinking about identity on a personal level, this makes sense. Ask yourself, who are you – or who is your partner/spouse? Their appearance might feature in your answer, but in all likelihood, you will probably focus more on other things such as talents, hobbies, character and personality.
Taking this back up to the level of a financial adviser brand, what actually are the key components of a financial brand? Moreover, do they feature in your own brand, prominently and effectively?
In this article, we’ll be looking at 4 core elements of a financial adviser brand. This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it will help you in your thinking – and possibly inspire you to develop your brand into something more compelling, unique and powerful.
If you are interested in doing so, then we’d love to hear from you to discuss your project together.
#1 Target audience
On a personal level, who do you really want to spend time with and where do you want to expend effort in building strong, lasting and intimate relationships?
The chances are, you probably won’t want to invest so heavily with people who do not share your interests, values or sense of humour. In other words, you have a target audience!
On a corporate level, which groups of people are you looking to target with your brand? If you try to connect with everyone and anyone, what tends to happen is your message tends to get diluted and you end up failing to speak effectively to anyone!
A more effective approach is to clearly define your target audience and to tailor your branding towards that market. You need to be careful, of course, not to restrict yourself too much or choose a tiny market which does not offer a viable route to business growth. However, by focusing on a particular market “segment” you can ensure that people are more likely to remember you, and see you as valuable.
#2 Brand promise
A brand is essentially a promise to the consumer. When you think about it, people buy from various brands because they expect those brands to deliver on certain promises. For instance, you might buy a car from a particular manufacturer because you trust its brand promise to ensure a high level of reliability and fuel efficiency.
Likewise, people tend to “buy” from financial advisers because they trust certain promises which were made to them by the brand. This might be a promise to provide complete transparency and regular updates on portfolio performance, for instance, along with a range of other promises.
If people are not buying from you, ask yourself: could it be that your audience cannot detect a clear promise from your brand? Or, perhaps they can hear your promises but don’t trust them?
Your visual identity forms an important part of reinforcing brand promise – if you look the part, then people are more likely to take you seriously. However, brand promise also goes beyond this. It includes things like your reputation and client testimonials, for instance.
#3 Brand positioning/perception
How does your target audience perceive you? Do they see you as the “cheap and cheerful” option when it comes to seeking financial advice? Maybe they see you as the “go to person” for pension transfer advice for those in the NHS, or the “expat financial advice” man/woman?
How these people perceive your brand might be different from what you want it to be, but it’s important to find out what it is. From there, ask yourself: “Why do they think that?” Is there something in your visual identity which is leading them to position your financial brand like this in their minds?
Having a brand perception is better, by the way, than having no brand perception at all by your target audience. If they do not know you or cannot easily file you into a memorable “mental space” in their heads, then that’s a problem.
#4 Brand values
What does your financial brand stand for? What would your target audience say?
This is where financial advisers often struggle, as most would tend to say things like “integrity”, “long-lasting relationships”, “excellence” and “transparency”. These might all well be true, but they typically fail to make your brand stand out from others. Everyone says they stand for these things!
On the personal level, this is equivalent to saying your values are “being nice”, “treating others with respect” and “looking after the environment”. These are probably true, but how do those values distinguish you from dozens of other people in the room saying the same thing?
Coming up with unique, compelling and authentic brand values is a real challenge, but is so worthwhile once you figure them out. For instance, perhaps your values are “to help vulnerable women make better financial decisions” or “to place ESG investing at the heart of our financial advice services”.
Other areas of financial branding
We’ve only been able to touch on four important areas of financial branding in this article, but there are other core, vital aspects which we have not had time to cover here.
Brand voice is one example: how does your brand “talk” and what is its “personality”? Is it very “proper” and formal, or do you have more of an edge? Are you traditional or trendy?
If you’d like to talk to us about your financial branding project, then we invite you to get in touch to arrange a complimentary, no-commitment consultation with a member of our team.