BRANDING STRATEGY: The Devil’s In The Details
A brand is composed of four elements: Essence . . . Attribute . . . Identity . . . and Positioning.
Essence is the core or heart. How do people feel emotionally about your brand? Attribute is the dominant trait. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when people see your brand? Identity is the character of your brand. What’s the likeability of your brand? And finally, positioning is the place your brand occupies in people’s minds vis-vis competitors (real or perceived). How exactly is your brand differentiated from other brands?
Great branding is particularly crucial within financial services because the “purchase decision” being considered by a prospective client has major implications – possibly for the rest of their life and for people nearest and dearest to them. A level of trust is vital. Vetting by potential clients for wealth managers and financial advisors is necessary and, unfortunately, the actual functional differences between competitors can be razor thin with the types of services provided. Only the quality and brand perception truly differ.
So what constitutes a quality brand? It’s the unique combination of the above four elements that elevate your company’s impact and magnify your message. Pay attention to detail and manage your brand properly, and it will never depreciate. Fact is, it may likely increase in value year after year although it can’t be directly measured in physical terms like market share or stock price or company revenue. Many laypeople refer to it simply as a “reputation”. Be that as it may, most companies would avoid doing anything that damages their reputations, but they forget about managing their brand.
Branding doesn’t only live in the marketing department. It lives and breathes in everything you do. From the design of your corporate identity logo on letterhead to the collateral you create for prospects and clients. The white papers you produce to give inquiring readers a deeper understanding of your processes and research underpinning. The customer service your organization provides day in and day out. Your speeches and presentations delivered at conferences and events. Your media interviews, articles and mentions through public relations. How your practice’s support team interacts with clients.
Bottom line, there isn’t anything anybody within your firm does (or fails to do) that doesn’t affect your brand perception.
But it starts, up front, with the laborious self-research and repetitive brainstorming steps necessary to arrive at the very best brand creation possible for your organization – given your unique strengths, weaknesses, visions, plans, goals, people, target markets, geography, budgets, direct local competitors, professional certifications, and portfolio of services, etc.
It’s easy to think about branding just in terms of a website, a social media footprint, media appearances or PR placements, or other specific marketing tools. But again, your brand is everything you do and communicate – all the details left in and left out. Your brand image, once created, has to be “acted upon” and conveyed throughout your firm, from your front desk to your research analysts to your portfolio managers to operations to compliance and financial management. A meticulously researched and conceived brand strategy is a wondrous thing. It can create literal magic for your company once (and if) expertly executed. Brand success hinges on execution, consistency, and attention to each and every detail and word. Especially words; because words matter.
Define your brand with succinct compelling messaging, and you can rest assured prospects and clients will intuitively recognize the aggregate positive attributes of your brand (and not only your tagline). But make sure your communications are expertly crafted and memorable for all touch points.
Finally, don’t forget that understanding how real people interact in the real world of money and finance and investments and expenses can make the most significant impact on your financial advisory business. It’s why you do what you do.
Do you need help developing a branding and messaging strategy? Let us know! AdvisorPR can help you create a powerful brand strategy. Contact AdvisorPR at (866) 888-5333 or Info@AdvisorPR.com today.
Jack King has 40 years of experience in marketing and business development, plus strategic planning and operations management, across a wide range of industries. His last 17 years have been in the financial services sector. Established in 2005, AdvisorPR is a branding, marketing and public relations firm dedicated to providing custom and turnkey marketing communications solutions exclusively to financial professionals and the corporate companies that serve them.