Let’s face it. The advisor profession is full of forgettable brands. Google “financial advisor” in your local area and see for yourself how one website looks and sounds just like the next. The same phraseology, story lines, and key “differentiators” are being conveyed by nearly every firm, creating a universe of vanilla brands that fail to leave a lasting impression.
But, there is a silver lining. The abundance of lackluster brands offers an unprecedented opportunity for those in our profession who are willing to invest the time and energy to reinvent themselves. The advisors outpacing their competition are those who understand the brand changes they made ten years ago are not going to set them apart in the next decade.
Instead, they go back to the drawing board to re-examine the value they provide and re-evaluate how they deliver said value. As a result, these advisors create a revitalized version of their identity. Why? Because that’s what the modern-day investor demands. It makes the difference between instantly connecting with the purpose and humanity of a business and quickly losing interest.
Consider the big names in the world around you. Brands from Apple to Amazon frequently look to their advocates, enemies, and internal stakeholders for insight on how to remain relevant in the 21st Century. Occasionally, this process results in a complete overhaul because the brand of yesterday doesn’t align with the company of today. More often, the values and story haven’t changed, but the message behind the brand requires renewed clarity.
Our marketing team at Carson Group recently had an epiphany of our own. It began by reflecting on just how much the value we provide to advisors has evolved in the last five years. Our solutions have improved, our team and talent has grown, and our thought leadership has expanded. Despite how much things have changed, however, certain foundational values defined both our past and our future. One characteristic, in particular, that has been part of our identity all along is our unwavering commitment to guiding growth-minded advisors.
So, we took everything that had made our brand strong over the past two decades (our name, our forward-focused vision for the profession, our upward-reaching aspirations for our advisors) and combined it with the traits that have made us more recognizable in recent years (strong, dynamic, innovative, established, multi-dimensional, purpose-driven, advisor-centric, authentic). The result is the evolution you see here.
The secret to making this journey yourself begins on the inside. Start with first contemplating what a brand isn’t. Once you’ve pinpointed these areas, think about your ideal client and the experience you want to provide for them. Then, use who you serve and how you serve as your inspiration to make your marketing more memorable.
Branding isn’t solely about a catchy name, a creative logo, or an unforgettable tagline. These things are a product of something deeper. They are a reflection of the compelling purpose you exemplify as an organization. Here are some important things to remember as you dive into a rebrand:
TAP INTO YOUR TEAM – Your brand is only as strong as the people who live by it – your team.
Gather your team and talk about their perception of your firm. No other group of people has more responsibility to carry out your brand promise than they do.
PERFECT YOUR POWERFUL PURPOSE – Define your core values. Listen to the feedback of your team and your best clients. Be open to what’s not working. Tell your story. Uncover your differentiator and know it intimately well. (Hint: it’s not “trust” or “experience” or having a “simple 4-step process” or anything else you see in the average advisor’s brochure.)
BE PATIENT – This process may take some effort but keep at it. Many of the branding breakthroughs we’ve had at Carson came after we exhausted all ideas and forced ourselves to sit on it. When you get stuck, kick start your creative thinking by revisiting these questions:
- What is it your clients feel when interacting with your brand?
- What do clients think your brand can do for them?
- What do they expect as a result of your brand promise?
A full resuscitation of your brand requires more than a revamped logo. It demands a vision that inspires your clients, motivates your team, and forces the world to see your firm in a new light. Do that and your brand is better than “back from the dead” – it’s alive!