Having a strong brand carries a number of benefits.
It’s key to gaining recognition and credibility. It’s what helps you become a familiar name in your space.
Brands draw in marketplace talent, and build customer loyalty.
And, in the financial services industry, where competitors can offer the same products and services as you, branding is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself.
Read on to discover the 5 key pillars of perfecting your financial services brand, and reaping all the benefits that come with it.
Pillar 1: Conduct a brand audit
If you want to make a strategic effort to improve your financial services brand, you need a clear picture of how it is perceived in the market.
Conduct some surveys among the people that engage with you, so you can get an honest interpretation of your brand—the good and the bad.
You can do these surveys in person, over the phone, or via email and social media.
Ask nice open questions about your brand and service offering—what do they think of how your brand conducts itself in the market? What do they expect from your brand? Is what you’re currently doing delivering on that expectation? And so on.
We highly recommend allowing respondents to anonymise their answers for the best results.
But that’s not all, you should conduct some auditing internally too.
Work with your team to benchmark your brand against those of your competitors.
Assess everything from your brand’s identity (the way you communicate, the colours on your logo) to your brand’s performance (how many customers you’re reaching, levels of media coverage).
What are you doing better than them? Where are they performing better than you? Could you achieve similar results? Or capitalise on something they aren’t doing?
Document all your thoughts and categorise them in the areas of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Then use these documents to inform some actionable goals. Working towards these will strengthen your brand’s presence and position.
Pillar 2: Define your unique selling point (or points)
A USP is a written statement that communicates why your brand, product or service is better or different to the rest.
It should communicate where your organisation truly delivers value.
If you’re struggling to define this yourself, surveys can again prove very effective.
Speak to everyone from your customers, to your partners, to your employees, and look to get to the core of how people feel when they deal with you.
What do your customers value about you? Perhaps they can share some insights on previous experiences with other businesses, and how they compare to yours?
The data you glean from these exercises will inform your point (or points) of differentiation.
Remember, it’s not what you sell that necessarily needs to be different, but the way you communicate it, and the ideas and principles that underpin that.
It should be assertive, but not arrogant. Only include things you could reasonably back up if challenged.
Pillar 3: Know your customers
If you want to connect with your audience, you need to know them.
And we mean know them really, really well.
You need to know who they are, what makes them tick, what a typical day in their life looks like, their likes, dislikes, motivations and fears.
The way to do this is to spend time building detailed customer personas that define your audience. And be as specific as possible.
How old are they? What’s their job role? How long have they been in that role? How many kids do they have? How do they like to disconnect from work?
It might sound trivial, but all of these factors contribute to someone’s values and beliefs.
That means they also impact how someone conducts themselves emotionally, and how they make decisions.
These are the things to shape your financial services brand around if you want to truly connect with your customers, and eventually, persuade them to choose your offering over a competitor’s.
Pillar 4: Make it resonate
In many ways, professionals in the financial markets are just like professionals in any space.
They are people, and they still make decisions with their heart before their head.
In fact, research suggests that as much as 90% of human decisions are made based on emotions.
This is why brand identity can be so powerful. And why brand values are pivotal to success.
Look to instil your brand with a clear purpose—built on principles that people can align themselves with, and connect to on an emotional level.
When you present your brand, don’t just communicate what you do, communicate why you do it.
You don’t just deliver results. You overcome challenges and realise aspirations.
Then once you’ve established your values, make sure they bleed through all of your public communications—from your customer service script, to your social media profile.
This part can feel difficult. But just remember, your brand identity isn’t about you. Ultimately, it’s about your customer.
You want to shape your brand purpose around their values and beliefs (which you should have laid out for reference in your customer persona).
That’s how you become a financial services brand they remember, and a brand they feel inspired to work with.
Pillar 5: Be consistent
Customers respond better to businesses with a consistent brand.
That means the way you present yourself, the way you speak, and the things you stand for should all be aligned. And should remain aligned across all channels.
The best way to achieve this is by making a ‘brand bible’—an official document with a strict set of rules about how your financial services brand can or cannot be presented.
This should cover everything from use of your logo, to colour palettes and fonts, to writing guidelines for press statements, advertising copy and social media content.
(Mayven Studios has a really detailed guide on how to develop a brand bible here.)
It can feel over obsessive at first, but trust us when we say it pays to sweat the details of your brand identity.
Making such a commitment to consistent branding means that the next time you publish an image on social media, or an ad in an industry publication, the audience will know who you are before they even process the message you’re communicating.
That’s what true brand recognition is. And it’s a powerful thing.
In fact, consistent brand presentation has been shown to increase revenues by as much as 33%.
A lack of consistency on the other hand will create confusion. And that’s the last thing you need when looking to influence investment decisions.
Perfecting a financial services brand: Key Takeaways
- In the financial services industry, branding is the best way to differentiate yourself.
- Improving your brand requires an objective picture of its perception in the market. Survey those you engage with to assess how your actions are being received, what people expect of you, and your unique selling points.
- Ultimately your brand isn’t about you, it’s about your customer. Shape your values and identity around the things that drive them, and they will connect with it.
- Consistency is key. Customers respond to it better, it cements brand recognition, and most importantly, it has been proven to increase revenue.