For many financial firms, having a decent logo comprises the majority of what it means to have an effective financial brand.

I come up against this time after time in the financial sector. It is somewhat bewildering at times; although I think I understand where it comes from. Think of where the word “branding” originates, for instance.

To “brand” literally means “to burn” (historically, using a hot iron); a longstanding method used by farmers to mark their cattle. As such, if branding used to denote a visible mark, then in the business world it makes sense to understand branding as a visual symbol. In other words, your company logo.

Yes, having a logo is important. A logo, however, is not a brand. Rather, the former is an extension of the latter.

Your brand, ultimately, consists of those things which distinguish you from your competitors. This includes your company name, taglines & straplines, the colour palette, the imagery & graphical elements, and yes, the logo.

It can include the manner in which your staff answer the phone. It can cover the way your employees dress, and the office environment itself.

If you’re Pizza Hut, it includes the taste of your product. If you’re a scented candle shop, it includes the distinct fragrances attached to your candles.

Jean-Noel Kapferer, an acclaimed branding specialist, unpacks this concept of financial branding powerfully through his “Brand Identity Prism.” Under this model, financial branding can be conceived as having six distinct elements: personality, relationship, physique, culture, reflection and image. Briefly, here is an explanation of each:

1. Personality

This refers to the distinct character of your financial firm. You might express this uniquely through your expressions, writing and speaking styles, and tone of voice. It is also expressed through your particular colour palette and design features. KitKat, for example, is all about “having a break,” relaxing and having a good time.

2. Relationship

This particular feature of your brand describes the relationship between the people symbolised by your brand.

For instance, Coca Cola symbolises the relationship between friends, whilst Pampers conveys the relationship between a parent and baby. When it comes to financial branding, the relationship symbolised is often a formal one; but it need not necessarily be so.

3. Physique

These are the physical traits of your brand. This is often communicated visually through the logo, colour scheme, and printed materials. For Nike, this would include the distinctive “tick” logo icon. For a financial firm like Cavendish Medical, their unique “stag head” logo would fall under this category.

4. Culture

This is often found in the “Values” section of a company website. It refers to the basic principles and value system which form the basis of the company’s behaviour. When it comes to financial branding, some fairly common values tend to emerge, such as include transparency, objectivity and honesty.

5. Reflection

This denotes your typical buyer personas; i.e. the kind of people you tend to do business with. It usually refers to your “top buyer.” To take the example of Coca Cola again, the focus is typically on a younger audience who place high value on fun, sports and friendships (although their actual audience and appeal are much broader than this).

Financial firms can have a variety of buyer personas. Some target wealthy males in their 50s and 60s, whilst others, such as Cavendish Medical, focus their efforts on senior medical professionals seeking pensions advice.

6. Image

Image refers to how your buyer personas idealise themselves. A Porsche driver, for example, might think that other people will deem her rich and successful for being able to afford the car. Identifying the self-image of your personas can therefore guide your marketing strategy, as well as how you present yourself to them.

philAs the Marketing Coordinator at CreativeAdviser, Phil is responsible for devising marketing strategies for his clients, generating engaging and informative content, and ensuring brand consistency across all of CreativeAdviser’s communications. Phil has a passion for digital marketing and a borderline-unhealthy addiction to Google analytics. 

In his spare time, Phil can be found powerlifting at his local gym, watching action movies, or playing acoustic guitar at open mic nights.

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