As a financial planner or advisor, it may feel tough to capture the attention of potential clients. That’s because the industry is saturated with different options for investors. From software-based solutions to the wide range of talented service providers in the market, it can be tough to break through this hyper-competitive landscape.
One way to differentiate your advisory practice is to build a brand that’s recognizable and relatable on a human level. So what exactly does that mean?
A brand is about helping your target market connect with the values and personality of your firm. Here’s a deeper look into the topic, with tips for how to build a brand of your own.
What exactly is a brand?
As a concept, the idea of a brand can be challenging to understand because it’s intangible.
“The term brand refers to a business and marketing concept that helps people identify a particular company, product, or individual,” explains an article in Investopedia. “Brands are intangible, which means you can’t actually touch or see them. As such, they help shape people’s perceptions of companies, their products, or individuals.”
There are many different schools of thought about what makes a brand successful. A brand can be messaging-driven or design-driven — or a combination of both. It can include a slogan, logo, or set of trademarks.
“Brands are considered to be among a company’s most important and valuable assets,” explains the Investopedia article.
Brands are often synonymous with your company’s reputation. As an example, take a look at Glen Eagle Advisors, which has built its firm around the promise of being a “financial firm of the future.”
Founder and CEO Susan Michel established the company in 2002 from her kitchen, with the vision of helping clients achieve sustainable, long-term goals. Her goal was to deliver on promises and provide a service level that she felt was missing on Wall Street.
Today, Glen Eagle has expanded into a global business of 14 advisors, with customers that include corporations, business owners, and multigenerational families. The firm’s reputation, performance, and resulting brand recognition are what’s responsible for Glen Eagle’s position in the marketplace of financial advisory solutions.
The company’s brand is part of its core strategy, investment philosophy, and executive thesis.
Brand-building tactics for financial advisors
As a best practice, advisory firms often work with creative brand consultants to define and execute their visions. These creative professionals offer services at a variety of cost thresholds depending on their strengths and expertise. Typical brand strategist options include freelancers and agencies, with price points varying between solution providers. There are typically two types of brand consultants: those who focus on messaging and those who focus on design and visualization. Some consultants, often self-identifying as creative directors, will focus on both.
The key is to work with a skilled consultant whose samples you like at the price point that makes sense for your firm. If you can’t afford a consultant, you can also create your own brand using software-as-a-service solutions like Canva, Wix, and SquareSpace, in addition to stock photo services like ShutterStock and Unsplash.
Here are some simple steps to take, regardless of whether you’re hiring a consultant or building out your vision on your own.
Step 1: Come up with a tagline
The key is to distill your value proposition and unique philosophy into a sentence and potentially a few keywords. You might want to start by writing down a few paragraphs or freewriting your thoughts based on feedback that customers have shared with you.
Step 2: Select photography or art that resonates with your story
One simple step is to browse platforms like Unsplash, Canva, and ShutterStock using the keywords you uncovered in the previous step. Start collecting images that you think are interesting and relatable to your company. You can organize your ideas into a collage or collection of images.
Many brand strategists will create a mood board at this stage, which is a tool for organizing ideas, collecting feedback, and sharing concepts with teams. A mood board is particularly helpful for involving others in the brainstorming process.
The goal is to establish an artistic direction that reflects your firm’s distinctive personality. The right visual storytelling approach can help with rapport-building and establishing the overall mood of your firm.
Step 3: Create consistent marketing content
Your brand, at its core, is a foundation for ongoing communication. Once your visual and messaging strategies are in place, you’ll have the creative infrastructure to engage in marketing activities such as participating in education events, blogging, podcasting, and engaging in social media.
Michael Kitces, who has established one of the most visible and recognizable financial planning brands on the Internet, describes this process as “packaging your client wisdom.”
He encourages advisors to focus less on the critical process of choosing the best ideas and instead, establish “a consistent process to capture, store, and organize all ideas – even if those ideas consist of just simple phrases or sentences.”
The goal is ultimately to engage with an audience on a consistent basis.
“As the advisor who commits themselves to create again and again will find that their creativity, digital voice, and audience will grow and improve with time,” he writes.
As an example, take a look at the Glen Eagle Advisors website. The firm publishes a regular podcast committed to helping women build wealth, in addition to weekly summaries of market activity, investor insights, and investment commentaries.
This marketing content helps Glen Eagle’s audience engage with the firm in a meaningful way.
Relationships are the foundation of every successful financial advisory business. You can think of your brand as a problem-solving tool to take the lift out of establishing client expectations and to help create a more positive and uplifting emotional experience as a result.
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Learn more about CircleBlack
CircleBlack is an all in one management platform for the wealth management industry. You can think of it as an operational dashboard to better connect financial advisors and their clients around a shared perspective. The outcome is better collaboration and communication for relationship-focused advisors.
To learn how our software can help you build, manage, and grow your wealth management practice, get in touch.
This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.