Successful advisors create a brand. And then stick to it.
Any business that wants to be regarded as a true and credible business needs to take a little time to invest in building its brand. The term “brand,” though, especially in this industry, has many different interpretations. Let me explain what a brand is and how it’s developed, so you can determine if what you have is a “brand” or a just business with little direction.
What’s in a brand?
There’s your visual. And there’s your verbal. But all starts with a strategy.
To “define” your brand you must take stock of what makes you unique. Define what you do, who you do it for, when they should call you and why, how you solve their problems, how you’re qualified, what makes you better than anyone else in your area, what they can expect when deciding to work with your firm and the experience they’ll have once they’re a client. How you answer these questions will define how you build your brand.
As with everything, if you know where you’re headed, it’s a lot easier to get there. Once you have a starting point, it’s time to put the pieces in place. The visual brand identity includes things like company name, colors, logo and brandmark. Your tagline, brand imagery and related verbiage are all part of building the visual brand, and even your URL.
How you verbalize your brand is just as important, and in some instances, even more. The verbal part of your brand includes brainstorming and finalizing things like how you categorize your services, the name of your call to action and appointment processes, the identified core advantages of your firm and how those advantages benefit the client, and comprehensive messaging about the company, as well as its principals.
Company messaging includes things like: competitive differentiation, and how you will or are currently illustrating these advantages in your practice; service offerings, the benefits of each service provided for each target market; the company mission and vision statements, along with the elevator pitch and more. For principals of the firm, messaging should include education, expertise, accomplishments, affiliations, licenses and professional memberships as well as background, charitable work and family, if desired.
Once you’ve finalized how it looks and what it stands for, then congratulations, you have a “brand.” Now, you can move forward with supporting and promoting it.
Why is the brand development process important?
1) An established brand creates professionalism.
A cohesive look and message puts forward the appearance of a professional business. That gives consumers comfort in knowing they’re working with a credible person or organization.
2) An established brand creates a connection.
By having brand defined, you can give your prospects something to hold on to. A brand often incorporates an image – a path, pillar or harbor of safe waters. It can create an experience for prospective clients and is easily memorable.
3) An established brand creates clarity.
This clarity is not just for a prospective client, but for the advisor as well. Many advisors have not fully determined what their brand stands for. If you are not clear with how you categorize your services; the problems solved by your firm; your ideal client groups and when each should call you; the unique process you take a prospective client through; your core messages and why someone should call you over the next advisor; and what someone can expect when working with your firm… then how will they ever be clear.
4) An established brand creates consistency.
By taking the time to determine your brand up front, you can continue to use those brand elements and messages in everything you do going forward. It takes away the guessing game of how you will position your services or expertise. And by having consistent information on multiple materials, it starts to click for your prospective client. If you stick to your messages, your messages will stick.
5) An established brand gives you a guide.
Now that you’re clear on what you do, who you do it for, why you’re best qualified, and more, it’s much easier to stay consistent with the brand. No longer do you have to guess at your business – marketing and operational decisions become more black and white. You can decide if a marketing move or promotional opportunity will help to further your brand, or if it will create confusion in what your brand truly stands for.
If nothing else remember this: define your brand, stick to the messages and your messages will stick. Veer off course, and you’ll just confuse everyone – including yourself.