Whether you’re a quickly growing advisory firm, leading a small team, or working as a solo practitioner, branding matters. It conveys your firm’s DNA, establishes credibility and bubbles up your differences from competitors. A strong brand creates an emotional connection that validates the choice your clients made to work with you and gives prospects a glimpse of what it would be like to be your client.

Angela Streba
Angela Streba, director of advisory brands at Commonwealth

Commonwealth

These statistics speak volumes: 62% of all customers feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from the most, and 88% of consumers believe authenticity is important when deciding which brands they support. Even more tellingly, 74% of customers believe communicating with honesty and transparency is more important now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even without the empirical data, as consumers of goods and services we understand the importance of connection when deciding where to do business. But in a largely impersonal and increasingly digital world, where does this connection originate, and how is it maintained? 

The answer lies in creating and living a brand that resonates with clients and prospects. Your brand needs to be authentic, appealing and relatable. Yes, consumers care about expertise and they want to know you care about them. But they also want to know that you care about what they care about. This is particularly true of next-gen investors who tend to view money and business relationships differently than their older counterparts. 

Effectively positioning and communicating your brand is not merely a matter of logos, color palette and images. It’s a concerted, consistent effort that encompasses every client-facing aspect of your practice, from the look and feel of your office space to your website to how you answer the phone. Every touchpoint counts and leaves a distinct impression on clients and prospects.

Perception, reality and your practice
Time and again, we see the truth in the maxim “perception is reality.” In business, branding creates perceptions that will determine your success in attracting and retaining a target audience. This is important because attracting the type of client you want allows you to be the type of financial advisor you want to be. 

READ MORE: How an RIA’s marketing fuels inclusion, growth and branding

The very foundation of your brand comes down to this: How do you show up to work every day? If you’re an independent financial advisor and haven’t considered this seemingly simple yet actually complex question, you’re missing an opportunity to position your firm’s success by attracting your ideal client base. The answer is dependent upon conducting a thorough self-inventory by asking some profound questions:

  • What do I value?
  • What passions and values drive me?
  • What do I enjoy?
  • How do I define wealth?
  • What is my voice?
  • Why would a prospective client truly choose us over a competitor?  

In a relationship-driven industry like wealth management, success is often a matter of making the right connections with the right people at the right time. Clients, prospects, colleagues and peers have a reasonable expectation of knowing with whom they are dealing. In an environment full of disinformation, questionable AI-generated content and elevated skepticism in our 24/7 digital world, authenticity and transparency are true brand differentiators, ones that will help clients and prospects determine if they want to work with your firm.

Act three
How do you build a great brand? While the individual components will vary from firm to firm, the foundation should be consistent. This is where the A-C-T principle comes in. The strength of a brand is a function of:

  • Authenticity: Ensuring clients and prospects get what they are promised.
  • Connection: A shared, positive and deeply felt emotional connection with the client.
  • Transparency: Knowing and conveying what makes you different from the competition. 

READ MORE: Hearsay Systems launches program to help advisors level up on social media

Your brand isn’t where your story begins; it is, however, what will drive it forward. You must have the proper tools and resources to tell your story. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have the best technology to engage with my audience? 
  • Am I equipped to maintain my website easily? 
  • Do my community activities align with my values? 
  • Does my office aesthetic create an environment that reflects my brand and represents the ambiance I want to create? 
  • Are my marketing outreach efforts personalized, consistent and informative?

Partner up
You don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with a brand consultant or partner with expertise in strategic brand development and execution can go a long way in helping you land where you need to. Consider leveraging a third-party marketing platform to automate your messaging and target the right audience. Accessing technology, market intelligence and insights to keep your brand fresh and your message front-and-center enables you to do more than deliver a service — it allows you to nurture business-building relationships.

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