The Importance of Your Personal Brand as an Advisor
Often financial advisors don’t consider themselves as a “brand.” But whether you’re at a small financial planning firm or a large multinational firm, the brand a consumer evaluates largely centers around you individually. Sure, you have a company or team and a purposeful mission. Your team can likely (hopefully) recite your key messages of what you do and why you’re better than a competitor to prospective clients. But at the end of the day, if your ideal prospect doesn’t like or trust you personally, then your firm will never thrive.
People choose to work with people they like and trust, and more importantly, stay with people they like and trust. Some advisors may be able to skirt through the sales process, only to underwhelm their clients with the ongoing management of their accounts. Others struggle to even fill their calendars in the first place. You need to decide as an individual advisor what your personal “brand” is, and then live by that brand in all you do – from the first interaction with your firm through the ongoing relationship. (Consider these ideas from my recent blog for brand-building tips in our new digital normal.)
A recent study released by Edleman found that ‘trust’ is second only to price for purchase and loyalty. 70% of respondents to their annual Trust Barometer Special Report said that trusting a brand is more important today than in years past. We live in distrustful times, so building and maintaining a clear and distinct brand that is likable, relatable and consistent is more important now than ever. Falling off course with these attributes will hurt your brand, often with lasting consequences.
Ellen DeGeneres—For many years she’s had a successful run as a comedian, talk show and game show host, actress and producer. She singlehandedly turned “kindness” into a brand, closing each of her shows with a plea for everyone to be kind to one another. She has a Be Kind subscription box that she sells! She is likable, relatable, but definitely not consistent. We find now that the kindness was an act that was only turned on when TV cameras were near. Otherwise, she reportedly created a toxic environment for employees, colleagues and even guests of her show. Now, with this coming to light, her future in the career she’s had for the last two decades is in dire jeopardy.
What can we learn from mistakes made by the ‘rich and famous?’ You can’t be a brand sometimes. You must be your brand at all times. People talk. They listen to how you treat others. You run into people you know when you’re out and about. Personal social media is searched. And sometimes the cameras are rolling when you’re not paying attention. When thinking of your ideal clients, ask yourself:
- What makes me likable? How do you make your clients feel comfortable?
- What makes me relatable? What do we have in common?
- What can I do to be consistent? What behaviors would repel, confuse or disappoint your clients?
Building a personal brand takes time, but it can also be destroyed in an instant. Of course, your entitled to a personal life, but public outings, where there is a likelihood of running into your clients and ideal prospects, need to be considered as part of your extended workplace. Act accordingly. In a service-based business built on relationships, you must set your personal brand standards and be sure to live by them, always.
For more tips on building brand trust in our new normal, check out our recent blog or contact us to discuss how we can be of help.
Alana Kohl, founder and president of AdvisorPR, is an accomplished publicist, published author, brand strategist and trusted marketing consultant to financial service professionals and the corporate companies that serve them. To learn more about implementing our custom branding services for your financial firm, give us a call at (866) 888-5333.