When you hear the word “brand,” do you conjure up super bowl ads or glossy pages in Money magazine? Do you think of a polo shirt with your company’s logo or the chotsky that you’ll get at FPA Experience 2011? To limit the definition of branding as simply a mark or a type of advertising is to lose 95 percent of the potency of what a brand can mean for your business. The logo is simply the reminder. Branding is so much more powerful!
What is branding? Your brand is the intangible value that people associate with your product or service. It can be your competitive advantage, or your disadvantage.
Done well, branding carries your marketing efforts to a level that radiates beyond any individual tactic you implement. You have a story to tell that has depth, personality, attraction. You create a halo around your name. This halo effect is known as equity—a concept we usually associate with real estate. With brand clarity, you can focus your marketing efforts and make efficient use of your resources. You can easily communicate with your prospects and clients in a consistent and effective manner resulting in lower stress and quicker profitability. With a strong brand, you hold a distinguished space in the marketplace, can justify premium pricing and separate your practice from the pack. You are no longer a commodity!
Done poorly or ignored, the lack of a consistent and identifiable brand can leave potential clients apathetic. You lose clarity of what efforts to undertake, you waste valuable marketing dollars and you stumble on your story. This confusion comes through to your prospects and can decrease your conversion and your ability to keep loyal clients who advocate for you.
At its most basic level, brand is your company’s name. That’s just the beginning. You probably have a visual identity—your logo. Beyond that, brand becomes about the experience you offer and your expression at each of those touchpoints for each of your constituents. Brand extends beyond your end consumer to the way you present your company to your referral partners, the way you engage with your broker-dealer and the way you interact with your team members.
Every effort you take related to your business has one of three effects on your brand:
- Helps build the brand
- Has a neutral effect on the brand
- Harms the brand
The simple conclusion we can draw from these three effects is that the more initiatives you do to help the brand, the more value you extract from your efforts. If you stand for honest, consistent and reliable advice and you change up your pricing each time a new prospect comes in, you are harming your brand. If your assistant answers the phone in a friendly and courteous manner, you are helping the brand. Start thinking about your business in this way and you will begin to see how clearly defining your brand will make your marketing much more engaging, effective and enjoyable.
Kristin Harad, CFP®
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