The distinctive features and personality of a person, product, or company, that are unique from others and leave a lasting impression.
A brand sets you apart from other advisors. It’s the combination of tangible and intangible elements that differentiate you, and let prospects know what to expect from you.
Defining your brand is an important exercise for all advisors. Often, hiring a professional marketing agency can be the most effective way to create brand. Consider full service agencies who can help you define your purpose, create a visual identity, and help you implement it into your practice.
Get your Brand one-pager template in the toolkit
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand”.
- Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks
Your purpose is the foundation of your brand. It explains why you exist, and what you believe. It’s an opportunity to connect with people on the level of values. Whether you’re looking to expand your client base, or even grow your team, sharing your purpose will attract your target audience.
Your purpose includes your vision, mission, value proposition, and tagline. Align the services you offer to clients and any strategic or marketing initiatives to these elements.
A vision statement is a short, inspirational, description of your aspirations. It’s an enduring statement of what you want the future to look like. It can be about your business or the world in general. It should be brief, succinct, and memorable. This statement will guide the direction for every strategic decision you make.
Sample vision statement
A world where finances don’t keep people up at night.
A mission statement describes your fundamental reason for existing. It explains how you’ll serve your key stakeholders. By accomplishing your mission every day, you’re working towards your vision.
Sample mission statement
To create stress-tested financial plans that give clients confidence through any expected or unexpected events life may throw at them.
A value proposition is a promise to clients about the service and experience they can expect from you. It lets people know why they should work with you rather than someone else. It highlights your unique strengths, and the benefits to clients.
Sample value proposition
An empathetic approach from a multi-disciplined team of experts. Through on-going attention to detail, we’ll create the lifestyle you dream of for today and the future. When concerns, doubts, or ambitions grow, we’re one phone call away.
Your tagline is a quick summary of your firm’s value that aligns to your mission statement. Quick and concise, you can pair your practice name with your trademarked tagline in marketing messages. This will help create a link between your firm and your brand. Use alliteration, rhyming, or word play to make it memorable and unique.
Sleep soundly. Live fully.
Access the My purpose workbook in the toolkit:
Bring your vision into focus.
Define your mission.
Craft your value proposition.
Create your tagline.
When someone asks you, “What do you do?”, how do you respond?
“What do you do” is a common question to ask someone that you’re meeting for the first time. For advisors, it also represents a key opportunity. It’s the opportunity to explain your value directly to a potential client. Too often, advisors waste this chance. Sometimes, people make their answers to long or complicated. Other times, they’re caught off guard and only give their title.
A powerful way to grab someone’s attention and interest is to structure your answer like a story. Story telling is like using a metaphor. It helps illustrate to prospects the role you could play in their lives.
Use this foolproof formula to craft your own answer to the question, “what do you do?”.
Sample brand story
Many parents worry about what would happen to their children if they could no longer provide for them. I use a combination of insurance and investment strategies to create airtight financial plans. My clients live in the present and enjoy every moment with their families, rather than worrying about the future.
A strong visual identity captures the attention of your target audience, and creates brand recognition. It should reflect the values, and purpose of the brand.
A visual identity includes elements like:
Coca-Cola’s signature red colour, and classic font are easily recognizable.
John Deere uses their signature Green from their logo on all of their products.
Disney’s swirling font creates an instant recall of their brand.
To design a cohesive and memorable visual identity, consider hiring a professional marketing agency. They can ensure it appeals to your target audience, and aligns to your purpose. After they develop the look and feel of your brand, they’ll equip you with brand elements and guidelines you can use to keep your visual identity alive.
The benefits of a strong brand are endless. It can create trust, increase recognition, attract prospects, and build loyalty with existing clients. However, these benefits aren’t an automatic consequence of defining your brand. They come through consistent, intentional reinforcement of your message.
Every form of communication from your practice should align with your brand. Your brand guidelines will determine the look of your marketing material. The more often people see consistent colours and imagery, the greater your brand recognition will be. Make sure that the tone and attitude are consistent as well. If your visuals are light-hearted and joyful, your text copy cannot be cold, and to-the-point.
A strong brand attracts ideal clients. Part of creating loyalty, is delivering on that brand promise. Make sure that the services you offer directly correlate to your brand purpose. You can design a client service matrix to adapt the offering for each client segment.
Strategic initiatives are a great way to build brand recognition, deepen relationships with clients, and identify new prospects. When planning an event, consider how it relates to your purpose, and your target audience. The most impactful initiatives will go hand-in-hand.
Bell Let’s Talk is an annual awareness campaign in support of mental health. In addition to raising funds for mental health and building goodwill, they’re promoting their brand. There’s a direct relationship between talking with your friends or loved ones, and the telephone and internet services Bell provides.
Pick a cause that you care about, and plan to support it on an annual basis so it becomes a ritual.
Examples of strategic initiatives:
by Alison Campbell, Sr. Manager, Practice Management
You’re at a wedding. You see a friend who waves you over and introduces you to his neighbour who owns a business. It’s great timing. She was just talking about how she had some big decisions to make about managing her assets.
The neighbour mentions she’s met a few advisors and asks about your practice. You’re caught off guard. You didn’t expect to be talking business. So you say a few things about your background and your services. The band starts to play. You give her your card and say you’d be pleased to chat.
And off you go, back to your table. You realize you didn’t say anything awful, but you didn’t say anything great either. And you could have. You have a successful business, you excel at solving problems and you have a lot of happy clients.
But the neighbour doesn’t know this. The way your story came out, she thinks you’re just another advisor. And she’s been approached by many. Your financial services may be the best by a long shot. But people don’t necessarily buy the best services or products. They buy the ones they understand the fastest.
It’s simple, yet powerful. First, you have to change the way you talk about what you do as an advisor. You have to focus on the audience so that their problems take centre stage. Then, you have to make the prospect the hero of the story. Ensure that it’s a story they’ll listen to and understand – in just a few seconds.
Here are three key elements of a story that can motivate a prospective client to say: “I’m interested, tell me more.”
1. Your client is the hero (not you) and they have a problem. You need to identify the client’s need and what is standing in the way (the obstacle). This identifies the problem. The human brain is designed to survive. So, whatever you’re pitching, it has to meet a survival need. The client may have many problems. Focus on just one, like saving and investing for retirement, for example. That keeps the story short and easy to understand.
2. You have a plan to help them. You’re not the hero of the story. You are the guide. You are the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker, the Gandalf to their Bilbo Baggins. And the hero needs you to save the day. In a wealth protection story, many Canadians pay far more in taxes than they could have with the proper planning. In a retirement savings story, without the right advice, many people must work longer than they want. Or they don’t have the money they need for retirement.
You have a plan. With your great team, you can overcome the problem and meet the client’s needs. You don’t have to describe a specific plan in an your story. You just have to let them know that you have one.
3. The plan is successful. Your client achieves her goal. End your story by highlighting what success looks like. With a plan in place, you’ve helped many clients retire on time and live the lifestyle they want.
Let’s use the example of the neighbour at the wedding who is looking for help in saving and investing for retirement. Here’s how your answer might sound:
Without a proper retirement plan, many Canadians are falling short of their goals. They’re forced to retire later or retire without the money they need. I’ve helped many clients get back on track. They’ve retired on time and with the wealth they needed to live the life they’d always wanted.
The story puts the client and her need front and centre. But it also establishes you as an empathetic guide. You understand the problem and have a process to overcome it. If your brand story is successful, your prospective client will lean in and ask you more.
A great pitch brings your prospective client into your story. The tale of what you do should be about them, not you. It can lead to follow-up questions, meetings and eventually a client relationship. It’s no longer a story, but a real-life event.
So, be prepared for your next unexpected opportunity. Build a connection with a potential prospect – like at a wedding right before the band plays. Take a little bit of time to work on your brand story today. That can make a world of difference to your future success.
Robert Trasolini and Laurent Munier of Safe Pacific Financial Inc. open up about the role and impact of branding on their business. They share that branding goes beyond creating a logo, it’s about building trust with clients and delivering on your mission.
A brand communicates your values through everything you put forward. When done right, it’ll build trust and attract your ideal clients.
Your unique value proposition is a promise of what clients can expect from working with you. It’s a statement that speaks to your strengths and what’s important to clients.
Working with a professional agency to create your visual identity ensures that the look of your brand will communicate your values and appeal to your ideal client.
Any time you communicate with clients you’re showing them how you’re delivering on your brand promise. The more consistently you can do this, the stronger your brand will be.
Your brand is at the core of the client relationship and should be the link that ties together every strategic decision you make and service that you offer.