Successful Branding: The 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

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Today’s changing environment—which embraces technology, data and value—couldn’t be more exciting.

That’s what TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Managing Director Kate Healy said to a room full of FPA Retreat 2016 attendees at the Wigwam Resort.

Planners are able to communicate to prospective and current clients their qualifications and certifications, but now is the time to learn to communicate your value through branding.

“It’s great that you have the credentials, now you need to make the connection,” Healy said.

Currently, financial services ranks below the chemical industry when it comes to trust in the industry. That’s not great considering current clients say what they value most is having an adviser they can trust.

“We have to change that narrative,” Healy said. “You need to be able to tell the story of what you offer.”

Branding is what creates clients’ emotional connections to you. It shows who you are and it matters in differentiating yourself from the competition, establishing credibility and making clients comfortable.

To start your branding process, you need to ask yourself six questions, Healy said. Those questions are:

  1. Who are you? Find an independent third party to poll your clients about who you are and how you add value to their lives.
  2. Who do you serve? Figure out who you currently serve.
  3. What do you do? Showcase your unique value proposition.
  4. How do you do it? This doesn’t mean the six-step financial planning process—everyone does that—but this is the specific twist you add to that process. Maybe examine using different words you could communicate to current and prospective clients.
  5. Why do you do it that way? So you’re a fiduciary, but why? Tell the story behind why you do things the way that you do them. Why did you become a financial planner? Infuse your story with that human element.
  6. Why are you the best choice? The reason clients pick you most likely isn’t your education or fee structure, it’s most likely the connection they felt with you on a personal level.

The important thing is when current or prospective clients see or hear your story—as told through your company branding—it makes them feel something. They’ll remember you and most likely choose you because of that emotion.

“Emotion is the yellow highlighter in your brain,” Healy said.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use this code (PARET17) for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.


Ana Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.


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