Shaping your personality, promise and purpose to those who experience it
An absolute critical part to any financial services company is branding because of the overall impact it makes both today and for long-term success. Branding can change how your prospective clients and existing clients perceive your brand – and let’s clear one thing up, a logo is not a brand.
Branding is fundamental. Branding is basic. Branding is essential. Building a strong brand can generate incredible value for your company. But what is a brand? As far as we’re concerned at Goldmine Media, our definition of branding is the act of shaping how you are perceived by those clients and prospective clients who experience it. Because it’s intangible, a brand isn’t as easily defined. But, without a strong established brand, you have no differentiation – and no differentiation means no long-term profitability.
The answer to the question ‘what is a brand?’ starts with where a brand lives. So where do brands live? Brands live in people’s minds. They live in the minds of the people who experience them, from employees, investors, the media and, perhaps most importantly, your clients. Simply put, brands are perceptions.
UBS rebrand to become more human, modern and different
In 2016, UBS went through a process of rebranding. In an increasingly digitised world, the challenge was to truly differentiate themselves from their competitors. Their strategy was to highlight the value of human relationships throughout the clients’ different stages of life and their specific requirements. They wanted to transform from a low engagement organisation to a human-touch organisation.
Their aim was to evolve the brand design and to capture the forward-looking attitude of their clients, starting from a ‘digital first’ perspective. They developed the concept for messages: get attention first, then tell stories in simple words. This was the formal basis for the new tone of voice. They also developed a bright and light picture world their clients could relate to, capturing moments in the lives of active people and real places.
They underwent an internal strategic transformation, which is reflected through the brand we see today, and one that creates a distinct image. It’s based on their brand personality and has become more human, modern and different. As this is an evolutionary process, UBS is continually developing and moving on their brand guidelines, as well as internal and external marketing media.
The result of the rebranding process has led to a more engaging tone of voice through all UBS communications and channels, showcasing pictures that interact with the editorial for compelling word-image stories. The predominantly white brand design is clear and simple, which presents UBS as thoughtful, contemporary and empathetic people who provide world-class financial services.
Your brand personality includes a multitude of different elements, such as the company’s purpose, vision, mission, values and strategic objectives. You can then add to this your company’s culture, name and tagline, identity, voice and messaging, website, and brand architecture.
Brand personality is the unique spectrum of thoughts, emotions and behavioural patterns that are intrinsic to any financial services brand. Your brand personality is the reason it is identifiable to loyal clients and the basis for the highly personal relationships they form with you over time during the lifecycle of their relationship with your company.
Brand architecture is the coordinated system of names, colours, symbols and visual language that defines your brand. This includes your name and tagline, which are the most immediate things to your target audience and clients.
As I’ve already mentioned, your brand identity is more than just the logo. An effective identity will embody all of the defining characteristics of your brand, including its personality, promise and purpose. Your brand’s identity should be an aesthetic symbol full of meaning that can communicate your brand’s essence in a visual instant to all who experience it.
The voice and messaging of your brand are also critical, as they distinguish you from your competitors by conveying its purpose, promise and personality. Brand voice and messaging humanise your brand, making it identifiable to both existing clients and prospective clients. In every instance in which your brand’s voice is heard, whether via marketing collateral, advertising or website editorial copy, your clients should be able to recognise it immediately.
Your website resides at the epicentre of your brand. A good website brings your brand to life with compelling content and an engaging design. These days, websites are no longer confined to a desktop experience. They now travel with us on our mobile devices and remain one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to deliver your branding experience to your target audience, whether existing or new clients.
Central to any branding initiative is client research. This could take the form of in-depth interviews, focus groups and online surveys to enable you to precisely identify which client types align with your company’s purpose and values. With this information, you can create clearly defined client personas and a marketing narrative that’s specifically targeted at your ideal clients. Ideal clients aren’t just more likely to take action following the advice you recommend to them; they’re also significantly more loyal in their relationship with your brand. And few things are more valuable than brand loyalty.
When your brand is cohesive and well articulated, your marketing initiatives will be too. Branding encompasses the essential first steps that define your core messaging, brand personality and tenable marketplace position. Client research involved in the process of branding allows you to develop targeted marketing campaigns that are highly relevant to your most valuable client segments.
St. James’s Place Wealth Management – brand perception is everything
Strong branding gives you a unique advantage over your competitors, better enabling you to generate more business. I have often heard it said that, ‘Clients don’t pay for financial advice, they pay for financial brands.’ And many clients are willing to pay premium fees for brands they perceive as superior. If you are still not convinced, let me give you the example of St. James’s Place Wealth Management. The business founded in 1991 as J. Rothschild Assurance Group, began trading in 1992, and later acquired the publicly traded St. James’s Place Capital, eventually becoming St. James’s Place Wealth Management in 2006.
They have invested heavily in branding, marketing, PR and advertising. Today, with around 630,000 clients, St. James’s Place is now well established as one of the UK’s leading and most high-profile wealth managers and providers of financial services. They have fully understood the importance of perception and the value of brand equity. Their highly effective branding has enabled them to position themselves as an industry leader, with value propositions that many of their competitors struggle to compete with. This type of meaningful differentiation also has tangible value built into it. It has solidified their worth and allows them to command higher fees for their advice – and ultimately more value for their business.
Defining a financial brand is like a journey of business self-discovery, and it requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
- What is your story?
- What is your purpose and your mission?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- What are my competitors doing?
- Who is your ideal client, and how should you speak to them?
- What do both your existing and prospective clients think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
- What are your core values and attributes your brand should express?
Time to find out more about the power of branding?
Over the past few decades, banding was defined as simply a name, slogan, sign, logo mark or design, or a combination of these elements, that distinguishes one company’s service from another. Today, branding is far more complex and even more important. For more information about how Goldmine Media can help your business, talk to a member of our Business Development Team on 0845 686 0055, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abigail Spencer, Digital Marketing Specialist, Goldmine Media