Whether you’re a small business or a global company, investing in your brand can help you stay relevant—and competitive. But building a brand requires careful curation as well as the desire to invest in this important business component. So, let’s walk through what a strong brand is and what you need to do to effectively reach your target audience.
Recognize Your Brand Touchpoints
Simply put, a brand is your firm’s DNA: your reputation, your story, and how you show up to your clients and prospects. Here, it’s important to acknowledge there are positive and negative touchpoints when you talk about brand. A strong brand is one that exudes positive touchpoints. For instance, examine how your clients and prospects might feel when they walk into your office. Are they greeted warmly and promptly? How do they feel when they leave? What about when clients or prospects enter your Zoom meeting? How do they feel when that interaction ends? If you consciously think about it, you can see how brand touchpoints are critical.
Now, let’s talk about brand and emotion. Did you know that the most powerful drivers of human behavior are emotional? That’s great news for you, as the financial advisory space is emotionally charged. After all, think about what you’re asking clients to do: hand over their money to you, which is sometimes their entire life savings. That’s an incredibly sensitive act, and it entails an abundance of trust.
So, when investing in your brand, keep these four factors in mind, as they will help you build a trustworthy reputation.
Credibility. Are you reliable? Are you believable?
Track record. Do you show consistent results over time?
Alignment of interests. How well do your goals and values line up with those of your clients?
Empathy. Do you have the ability to understand others’ realities and their needs? Studies show that empathy is the most significant influencer in creating trust. When people trust in and connect with a brand, they tell others about it. They become brand advocates. When your clients refer you or rave about you to their loved ones, they’re acting as a walking billboard for your firm.
Investing in your brand will help you harness that emotion and establish a level of trust with clients and prospects. And there’s a lot to lose if you don’t make that investment.
Calculate the Cost of Not Investing
At this point, you still might be asking, does a solid brand really matter? The truth is, if you don’t invest in your brand, you’re leaving a lot on the table.
Money in motion. There are many potential clients out there. Baby boomers are coming into their full retirement, and they’re looking to build intergenerational wealth. Gen Xers, currently in their highest earning years, are maximizing their salary potential. Millennials (the oldest of whom are turning 40 this year!) are building stable wealth. Last, but certainly not least, are the HENRYs (i.e., high earners, not rich yet). HENRYs are the people you want to nurture because while they may not meet your minimums now, they are certainly going to be the high earners with whom you’ll want to build your pipeline someday.
Increased competition. There’s more competition from financial advisory firms popping up every single day. More advisors are also investing in their brands and, therefore, attracting more clients. Plus, it’s 2022. Robo-advisors have been on the scene since 2006. They offer an easy, accessible way to build wealth. So, in other words, the competition is real—and it’s getting fiercer.
Education. The expertise you offer is going to lose its potency when information is readily available. When people do their research and educate themselves, they’re less likely to put blind faith in an expert “just because.” So, the more educated your client base is, the more your brand needs to resonate.
Ask Questions That Matter
Now that you know why your brand needs to stand out, let’s talk about how you can work to create a standout brand. A great place to start is by asking the right questions.
Why would someone work with you? This can be a challenging question for advisors. If you find it difficult to answer, try asking some of your top clients, or even a new client, why they chose you.
What are you uniquely qualified to do? Think about your personal experience and education—what is it about your life that has given you insight and expertise into something that can help other people?
What value do you provide that clients can’t get anywhere else? Your value will set you apart from the competition, but be careful not to cast too wide of a net. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be all things to all people. Focusing on what you do best will allow you to do the work you enjoy and help you attract clients who are passionate about the same things
Build a Distinct Brand
Activate your differentiators. When you know what sets you apart, you can begin to build your distinct brand. But to do this, you’ll need to activate your differentiators. So, whether you’re creating a name, developing a logo, or refreshing your website, work to ensure that all of those brand elements tie back to what truly sets your firm apart.
Craft strategic positioning. Differentiation and key messages are the roots of solid strategic positioning. That combination is going to provide a unified foundation for how you and your team communicate your brand in a steadfast way. Remember, consistency is key in everything, from emails to brochures to what your staff says when they pick up the phone.
Create an impactful website. Did you know that you have about five seconds to connect with someone once they’re on your site? This is why a well-crafted and compelling site is a must—and it’s a powerful marketing tool that will set you up for success with current clients and serve as a fantastic conversion tool for your prospects.
A Smart Investment
A well-differentiated brand is one that will evoke emotions, inspire trust, and reach your target audience. By investing in your brand—and focusing on what you do exceptionally well—you’ll be on your way to projecting authenticity and driving growth.