Most financial firms recognise that they need strong financial branding. Yet what does a strong brand look like in this space, and how can you ensure that it is distinctive and memorable?
One of the crucial steps for building a strong financial services brand is to find a compelling “hook” upon which to hang all of the different parts of your visual identity.
This, in short, is the central theme or idea which unifies your logo, colour scheme, imagery and other brand assets (e.g. mission statement). It could be any number of things, but it must be compelling, authentic and different.
In this post, our design team here at CreativeAdviser offer some thoughts on how to start fining the hook for your financial brand. To take this all the way, of course, you will need the help of a professional financial services agency. Yet understanding the process and getting some initial ideas will go a long way to help you get more out of your creative project.
Going Beyond Logo Design
At it’s most basic level, a branding project could simply focus on creating a unique, high-quality logo for a financial planning firm. As your agency offers you a series of design directions and ideas, you whittle down towards the final choice – which is then integrated onto your business card and website.
This is a good place to start for a startup financial firm on a tight budget, which is also looking for good quality design. Yet this process is unlikely to unearth the “hook” that you will eventually need for your financial services brand.
A good example of this to illustrate is Tandem Financial. This financial planning business was set up a few years ago, and had no visual identity, branding or even a name when they started.
To reassure clients that the new business looking after them “felt real” and “looked the part”, a strong brand was needed, in good order. Our team at CreativeAdviser got to work, hunting for the “hook” that would make the brand stand out and resonate with clients.
The “hook”, in this case, ended up being the tandem bicycle. It ticked all of the right boxes in this case:
- It felt authentic, since the clients knew that the business owner was passionate about cycling.
- It was different from competitor brands, which largely focused on visual cliches (e.g. pictures of a man in a field with his arms outstretched towards the sun!).
- It provided a clear, unifying message to the audience. The tandem bicycle brings up the image of partnership and journeying together toward a destination, enjoying the ride along the way.
Can you see how this branding process for financial firms goes beyond just simply getting a logo design for your business? As important as the latter is, it truly comes to its fore when it hangs on a strong “hook”.
How do I Find my “Hook”?
That’s the million-pound question, and if it was easy there would be no need for financial branding agencies! The only way to truly find it is to commit to a creative journey/project, where you take the time with a seasoned design professional to explore the different avenues you could go down.
This process cannot be rushed and must be nurtured carefully. That might be frustrating at times, but the pay-off is well worth it. Think of the great artists of history. Few of them created their masterpieces within an hour. It took sweat, dedication and often multiple re-starts before they got the desired result.
Does that mean you are stuck until you speak to a financial branding agency? Well, no, not really. It’s actually better for your eventual project to spend time doing some exploration yourself, beforehand. This can help refine the ideas at the beginning of your project, providing greater clarity and focus, sooner.
So, what can you do to help find the “hook” in your future financial branding project, right now?
- Think about what your clients would say about you. How would they describe the experience of working with you? What do they value the most from you? For instance, perhaps it’s the fact that you offer the best, most convenient and cheap technological solutions to their problems. Or, maybe they truly value the personalised, long-term relationship you offer.
- Consider your differences from competitors. What do people say about their impression or experience with your immediate rivals. Is this different to how they might describe you? It could be, for instance, that the size of your business or its local profile matters compared to the others.
- Which values matter to you? Of course, all financial firms wish to communicate that they “put the client first”, are transparent and offer high-quality service. Your audience assumes those things will be important to you, so what other brand values could you highlight which might help make you stand out from the alternatives? Perhaps you care about a particular cause (e.g. financial planning for divorced women) or industry/sector (e.g. senior doctors).
- What kind of imagery are you attracted to for your brand? Perhaps you’re into sailing and like the idea of financial planning being like a voyage. Or, maybe you like bird-watching and think that there are some good principles here which could also represent your approach to financial planning. What about carpentry or calligraphy? There are many different “image sets” like this which could provide a great starting point for finding your hook one day, during your financial branding project.