YouGov survey in March 2016 placed the financial services sector at number 26 in a ranking of how consumers perceive various industry's - twenty-sixth place was indeed last, just below gambling.
A strong, trustworthy and purposeful brand is essential to combat this perceived reputation.
The importance of branding comes some way down the list of priorities to many Advisory firms, when in reality it should be key to the business. It is everything you do, who you are as a company, what you stand for, your values, goals and most importantly how your business is perceived at first glance.
A strong brand purpose helps you manage your firms' perception, when done well it conveys stability, professionalism and trust, vital in the financial sector more than any other. When done badly it can destroy a company's image, make existing clients jittery and crush any chance of attracting new business.
A great brand requires thought, strategy, and consistent and firm implementation from the top down. Some financial services organisations including advisory firms are still failing to harness the full power of their brand. There are a few reasons for this:
1. A lack of understanding of what branding is all about.
It's still seen as 'logos, ads and sponsoring a sports event with lots of hospitality rather than about defining the company's principles, purpose, positioning and people's behaviours to support a vision and strategy. It's a mistaken belief that branding can somehow paper over a less-than-attractive reality.
2. An absence of commitment to the brand programme at the top.
Leadership has agreed to work on the
brand, but doesn't actively support it, engage with it or give any
time to it. This is often true where the people running the
organisation haven't changed for many years. They pay lip service
but not much
3. There is commitment
at the top but
brand work fails due to middle management
The 'marzipan layer' is often the level that stiﬂes change. With one eye on retirement, middle managers can be resistant to change and can see little benefit for them in doing so.
4. Failure to follow through.
Many brand programmes start well and deliver a robustly researched and sharply defined brand. But failure happens at the engagement and activation stage.
To re-brand or refresh you'll firstly
need to think about how you want your brand to be perceived. What
do you want people to know about you? Are you reliable and focused?
Do you follow through? Do you provide your clients with amazing
results? A good designer or consultancy can convey all of these
things using the main tools at their disposal, design
and language. It doesn't have to be a hugely expensive process either, if you as a company are clear on who you are then it is easier to convey this to your clients and the outside world.
In conclusion, a purposeful and fully implemented brand can help you manage your audiences' perceptions, send a strong message to clients and prospects, and save and make you money in the long run.
Have you been paying enough attention to your brand lately? If not now is the time.
David is creative director at Corbett Creative and has previously worked at Dazed&Confused, Id magazine and The Face among others.