Your financial branding strategy is your plan, including long-term goals, which define your business’s character and distinguish it from the competition.
Branding, in this sense, will influence all aspects of your business. It touches the needs of your target audience, competitive environments and client emotions.
A brand is not merely your logo, website, company name or service offering. Financial branding is actually quite intangible. However, one way to describe it is to see it as those collection of things which separate average and excellent brands from one another.
Branding is like a person. You can identify them by their name, age and other superficial traits. Yet their identity stretches must further beyond that. It’s also about their character, quirks and values. A good set of brand guidelines can often help you internally define what your brand is about, for instance.
To reveal more of the nature of financial branding, here are 5 essential features of a branding strategy you need to consider:
#1 Purpose In Financial Branding
Take a look at this great quote from Allen Adamson, Chairman of Landor Associates (design firm):
“Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose.”
In other words, great financial branding does not merely make promises to its clients and target market. Great branding also provides meaningful, specific purpose.
It answers this common question amongst IFAs: “Why do I wake up every day and do this?”
Purpose can be defined in at least 2 ways:
- Intentional: The business focuses on monetary success and promoting a good cause.
- Functional: Success is defined in terms of immediate commercial success.
An important note at this point. Making money alone will not distinguish you from other IFAs or financial brands.
Our advice is to dig deeper and really unearth why your financial branding purpose is different.
#2 Be Consistent
Do you find yourself thinking that your financial branding doesn’t really hold together? If so, then the first step is to stop talking so much about things that do not enhance your brand, or relate to it.
Really ask yourself: did that blog post really have anything to do with my brand? Does that Facebook post? Are my messages confusing my target market?
Take a step back and take a look at your written and unwritten brand communications. Check for inconsistencies, and minimise them.
You could consider putting some brand guidelines together. We design these here at CreativeAdviser for financial advisers, and they’re a great way to outline and define the styles, fonts, colour scheme, imagery and messages which are permitted to be used on brand communications.
#3 Tap Into Emotions
People might think they are behaving rationally when they buy something, but really they are guided by their feelings. Emotions drive buying decisions, by and large.
How else do you explain why people spend tens of thousands more on a brand new Jaguar, rather than a second-hand Renault?
By allowing your clients and target audience to feel like they are part of a large group, something bigger than themselves, you can position yourself as the obvious choice for someone looking for financial services.
Why is this the case? Psychologists Mark Leary and Roy Baumeister describe it as the “belongingness hypothesis,” which postulates that humans have an innate need and desire to feel closely connected with other people.
What does this mean for financial branding? Find ways for your brand to tap into human feeling, create community and connect with prospects and clients on a deep emotional level.
#4 Be Flexible
The world is always changing, especially in our tech-driven world with mobile devices, the internet and digital innovations happening all around us.
To stay relevant, financial branding needs to be able to adapt to developments in the surrounding marketing and competitive environments.
I know what you’re thinking at this point: “How is financial branding supposed to stay consistent, whilst also being flexible?”
It’s a great question, and the answer lies in keeping your purpose, values and standards consistent whilst having the flexibility to find new ways to generate interest and engagement.
#5 Create Loyalty
Do you already have clients who love you, your brand, and your company? If so, then it’s time to ensure they get their reward.
These people may have gone out of their way to recommend you to others, or write a testimonial / review online about how great you’ve been.
They are acting as financial branding ambassadors, and if you foster their loyalty from an early stage, then you can reasonably expect to yield more clients (and therefore profit) from these efforts.
How do you reward them? Sometimes, just a simple thank you can go a long way. We have several IFA clients who make a point of writing Christmas cards every year to their own clients (which we help them design). A personalised letter is also a fantastic way to go.
Are you proud of your financial brand? Many financial advisers are, but then again many are not.
Sometimes, it’s a case of your financial brand being “all over the place”. It just doesn’t hang together, or seem very focused. Other IFAs have a definition of their financial brand, but it fails to match up to who they really are or what they really offer.
If you are in this boat, don’t worry. You are not alone and it is possible to find a solution.
It may be tempting to become focused on what kind of blue shade you should use, or what tone of voice you should use in your social media. Before you do that, it’s important to step back and take a wider perspective. First things first.