Branding is the foundation of any successful financial firm yet many financial advisors lack this vital tool in their marketing tool chest. This is mistake 6 in my series on marketing mistakes advisors make.
Where financial advisors start their careers
Many advisory firm founders start out in wirehouses, which is perhaps the reason many don’t invest in a professional brand. The Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch advisors who go out on their own are accustomed to having a corporate brand in place, one that they are not able to influence.
So when these advisors go independent they may not place a high value on a creative brand and thus an opportunity is lost to strategically position their firm in the independent market space.
In the work I do with clients, they come to realize how important their brand is to the long-term success of their company because the brand sets the tone for everything marketing and service related. It’s a building block from which all things connected to the business will take shape
Unfortunately I’ve seen too many firms with the same or similar logo. There must have been a “sale” on generic logo shapes or perhaps the firm hired an inexperienced designer because they came in under budget. This is a big mistake and can lead to a poor first impression with your prospective clients.
Figuring out what branding means to your practice doesn’t have to be a complicated process. I’ve written about this topic many times before. You can read here about the many benefits of having a good financial planning brand.
What Is Branding?
Branding refers to the process of making a unique identity for your financial advisory firm in the mind of your target clients. Basically, branding consists of several factors, such as a logo, tagline, and the like.
By manipulating factors such as your logo, brand colors, and office design, you’re branding your business. In other words, you’re changing how people perceive your business.
Even if you don’t have a branding strategy at the moment, you already have a brand. Your brand may be a firm that sends mixed messages to clients by not having a cohesive brand. Since you’re going to have a brand either way, you might as well take control of it today.
What your clients say and think about your brand is their reality. It’s the impression that’s embedded in their heads when they hear your name or the name of your business.
What Are the 4 Benefits of Good Branding?
By now, you understand that branding is essential. But what, specifically, are the benefits good branding can bring to your firm? Mainly, branding can:
1.Increase Brand Recognition
One of the main benefits of branding is that it can help your clients recognize more easily your financial advisory firm. As consumers become more familiar with your brand, they become more likely to work with you instead of a financial advisor they’re not familiar with.
2.Help Build Trust
Branding helps you show potential clients that you’re honest, authentic, and trustworthy. Effective branding – which involves engaging with your community, educating your target audience, and fostering connections – helps you build trust with potential clients. This trust makes it easier for prospects to pull the trigger and go all-in with working with you.
Branding plays a significant role when it comes to landing new clients. When potential clients see that you have a strong brand and positive reputation, they’re more likely to choose you as their financial advisor.
4.Increase Client Loyalty
A strong brand also increases loyalty among your existing clients. When your branding resonates with what your clients want from you as a financial advisor, they’re more likely to stick with you in the long run.
What Are the Elements of Good Branding?
What does having a good wealth management brand really mean, you ask? Good branding encompasses the following:
1.Your business name
- The name you give your firm -I prefer that you not name the company after your own name so that you keep an eye to the future, when you’ll be selling your firm. It’s much easier for succession planning when your firm does NOT have your name.
- The tagline you use to accompany your firm name – Very often, a name doesn’t really tell prospective clients what you do or where you focus. I’ve said many times before that a good tagline “finishes off” the brand and helps to set the tone for the long-term benefits of hiring your firm. Your tagline should be a short statement that sends a message central to your branding approach. You can have your tagline address the customer, or you can have it be something you want the customer to think about when they avail of your service. Examples of successful taglines include:Nike – Just Do It
Apple – Think Different
Ford – Go Further
McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It
Burger King – Be Your Way
3.Your company colors
- The colors you choose – You absolutely do not have to use blue. It’s overdone. There are so many wonderful creative color combinations that you can use to create an artistic feel for your firm.In one of our previous articles in this series, we discussed how you should create an emotional connection with prospective clients. Color can help you create this connection wordlessly.A consistent and cohesive color palette for your brand can serve as an effective marketing tool. After all, studies show that people subconsciously judge a person, product, or environment within the first 90 seconds of viewing. Sixty-two to ninety percent of that impression is based solely on color.
In fact, color is so important when it comes to branding that there’s an entire branch of psychology that focuses on color and how it impacts human behavior.
- Your logo – There are many forms your mark can take from a typographic logo (words in an interesting font), to an all out intricate graphic shape that represents your firm’s values. My advice here is to hire the absolute best and most experienced designer you afford. You’ll want to invest in a good logo because it’s the foundation of your brand identity.Successful branding is all about telling a story that can influence your clients’ emotions. And although good logo design is only a tiny part of your firm’s overall brand, it acts as the foundation for the entire story on which your financial advisory firm’s brand is built. Your colors, tones, fonts – these all depend on the story you’re trying to tell. And your logo is what sets the stage for your story.
5.Your target clients
- The niche clients you serve – You can absolutely use your target market in your brand in several ways. You can use images that represent your market as a doorway in your website design. You can speak your brand via your 30-second elevator speech.
6.Your office design
- Your office design – The way your office is decorated and designed is very important to your brand. Everything from the furniture in your waiting room to the artwork you hang on the walls factors into the warmth and welcoming feeling you should seek to present. Moving away from the adversarial boardroom to a relaxed living room can go a long way to establishing rapport with your clients.
Examples of Successful Branding
At this point, we’ve discussed the essential elements of successful branding. Now, let’s take a look at how some successful businesses have mixed all these elements together to create powerful brands.
Apple is one of the most successful brands ever to be conceived. This tech company’s brand positioning was so on-point that, nowadays, most people identify themselves as either an Apple or Android person or a PC or Mac person.
Apple’s brand mission from the very start was to bring the best user experience to the table through its cutting-edge services and products. The company stays true to its mission today.
Even today, most people know Apple products for their clean, user-friendly interfaces. Their brand consistency paid off, as people now recognize Apple as one of the most valuable brands in the world today.
When you think of a coffee shop, the name “Starbucks” will most likely come to mind, thanks to the company’s effective branding. This global brand redefined the coffee-drinking experience. As part of their branding strategy, they not only promote good coffee but also promote a pleasant experience at all their stores.
Today, Coca-Cola’s brand does not revolve solely around its drinks; instead, it revolves around the ideas of togetherness, happiness, sharing, and the holiday spirit. But Coca-Cola was not always as well-known as it is today. In fact, the company sold its first drink in 1886. But it’s Coca-Cola’s marketing efforts from the 1970s and later that pushed the company into the spotlight.
Here’s the big brand takeaway:
Create a Brand for the Firm You Want to Be
Let’s say you are passionate about helping women avoid financial mistakes in their lives and you want to serve only women. Think about how you can do that now and five years in the future. Create a brand for the firm you will be after your transformation. In other words, act “as if” and build a plan to get there.
Determine your big vision first. Then review the above list and make action items for each area in your plan. Build a professional brand for your firm that will carry you into your ideal future.
Here are the other mistakes in this series: Financial Advisor Marketing Mistakes
Hi, I’m Suzanne. I coach financial advisors like you.
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