Your firm’s mission, identity and values can shape your brand and what it says about you.

 

How do you quickly convey trust, value and credibility to prospective clients and the marketplace?

With your brand.

That’s right. Your brand says a lot about who you are. It speaks to your mission, identity and values. When they are aligned with your brand, it sends a signal that clients instantly connect with about how you can help provide solutions to their problems, who you really are and what’s important to you.

“Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not,” according to James Heaton, president & creative director of Tronvig Group, a brand strategy agency in Brooklyn, New York. 1

On the distinction between branding and marketing, he says, “A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say ‘buy me.’ Instead, it says ‘This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.’”

A clear, concise and compelling brand can competitor-proof your firm, generate referrals and build the same connection that consumers have with those beloved brands across other industries. But it’s not a given that financial advisors, registered representatives and RIAs may have put much thought into their brand. A survey of 628 advisors by Prince & Associates in 2010 found that only 16.2% displayed meaningful brand equity, in other words, had a professional brand.

As Russ Alan Prince and Bruce H. Rogers noted back in 2010, “brands provide an emotional connection between you and your customers as well as you and the influencers who can direct highly qualified affluent prospects to you. Brands add value to commodity products and protection against competitors. Branding is no less important for financial advisors than it is for any other marketer. So what do you stand for? What does your brand stand for?” 2

One of the ways you can think about your firm’s mission and identity is to consider how the products and services you offer can make an impact on your clients’ lives, like peace of mind or sleeping comfortably at night knowing their retirement savings are safe. When Heaton writes that a brand says “This is what I am,” he is speaking at the level of identity.

Who are you? It’s an important question when having to differentiate your firm among the other financial and investment advisors out there. And solidifying your brand around your firm’s mission, identity and values can help attract referrals and influencers.

“A strong brand is easy for your referral sources to explain. If your clients (or their influencers and trusted advisors, such as attorneys) can’t easily articulate how your firm is better and different from your competitors, their efforts to refer you are far more difficult and less effective.” 3

In terms of values, or what’s important to you and your firm, it’s key that your brand syncs up and conveys what you can do for clients in a way they understand. Prince and Rogers say that core tenets, “define how an advisor achieves results and resonate with the needs and wants of the target audiences.”

A core tenet for high net worth clients might be, as an example, to be state-of-the-art. “The investment advisor’s brand must communicate that he or she has an in-depth understanding of extreme wealth and is using the latest thinking when it comes to managing money,” they write.

Have you put much thought recently into your firm’s brand? Shurwest offers integrated and creative marketing services that can help align your mission, identity and values with your brand and set you apart from the competition.

Let us know how we can help.

Sources:
“The Difference Between Marketing and Branding,” James Heaton, Tronvig Group. http://www.tronviggroup.com/the-difference-between-marketing-and-branding/ (accessed August 31, 2018).
“Crafting a Brand,” Russ Alan Prince and Bruce H. Rogers, Private Wealth. https://www.fa-mag.com/news/crafting-a-brand-5895.html?section=49 (accessed August 31, 2018).
“Top Four Reasons Branding Can Pay Off For Financial Advisors,” Tracy Oats, Tronvig Group. http://www.tronviggroup.com/top-four-reasons-branding-can-pay-off-for-financial-advisors/ (accessed August 31, 2018).