Branding: You Can Do Much Better!
Develop a branded experience from the inside out, and devote your firm to ongoing training, your brand will thrive as your firm grows and evolves. Go beyond the superficial elements of appearance and get to what truly matters.
Branding: You Can Do Much Better! By David Simkowitz
To truly develop your brand, go beyond the superficial elements of appearance and get to what truly matters to your clients.
What do your clients really care about? Consumer spending has shifted over the past 10 to 15 years. Today people spend less on durable goods and more on memorable experiences—from wine tasting to exotic vacations. It seems that many people are putting the things they do above the things they possess, and this, in turn, is making a big impact on the economy.
What does this mean for financial-services companies? It means we should learn from what other industries have already discovered: The real way to distinguish your firm lies not only in logos with well-chosen colors, but also in thoughtful experiences that clients will remember.
Stated simply, your clients aren’t coming to you because they want a bunch of meetings, a big stack of paperwork and many stressful decisions. Understanding this basic premise, as well as focusing on what your clients really want, is the foundation of every great brand.
A great brand serves as the heart of a company. To truly develop your brand, you need to go beyond the superficial elements of appearance and get to what truly matters. Doing so will make your firm more appealing and increase the chances of your getting referrals and repeat business.
When a certain experience is expected, it's more likely to be delivered. Commit to your experience.
Delivering on your brand's promise.
Consistent delivery of positive brand experiences doesn’t just happen, just as you can’t spill ink onto a piece of paper and expect your logo to materialize. To select a logo, careful consideration is given to all aspects of the design. Similar care should be given to the client experience. Think of the client experience as something you must thoughtfully craft and deliver while keeping the four ideas below in mind:
- Analyze the client experience, from beginning to end.How do clients first learn of your firm? How do they engage? What are the milestones along the way? How do you finish? How do you continue the relationship over time?
- Think about your clients’ expectations. What promises do you make to your clients, and how can you deliver those promises?
- Reflect on your past experiences. Examine your most successful client relationships. What were the steps that led to that success? What are the characteristics of the clients who represent the best fit? Why does your process work so well with those ideal clients?
- Pinpoint how you want clients to feel after interacting with your firm. You may want them to feel comfortable, welcomed, confident or optimistic. You might hope they feel as if they’re among friends or experts. Once you’ve narrowed down the desired feeling, think about the interactions that will deliver this feeling.
Consistency is key
Like a great logo, a branded client experience must be delivered consistently. To achieve this, the experience must be documented, shared and embraced by the entire team. During the planning stage, step out of the standard financial-services "box." Think about the steps involved with planning an amazing vacation like an African safari. Find ways to make each step of your process a little more concrete and a little more meaningful.
Putting the client experience plan in writing will help ensure that it stays consistent over time, particularly as your firm grows and scales. Documentation is also essential for training. Within your firm, the branded experience should not vary from one team member to the next. To ensure that the experience is delivered reliably, training is needed.
This is also not a one-time event. Over time, people forget details and develop bad habits. Some team members leave, and others arrive. As your firm grows, the brand must survive. This means that new team members must receive training and everyone must receive reminders.
Consider creating signage throughout your office to remind your team of each step. Also, educate clients up front about what to expect and the milestones they will encounter along the way. When a certain experience is expected, it’s more likely to be delivered. Commit to your experience.
A thoughtful and consistent brand experience makes a stronger impression than any logo. By developing this branded experience from the inside out, and by devoting your firm to ongoing training, your brand will thrive as your firm grows and evolves.
David Simkowitz is the founder and president of SimkowitzCo in Brooklyn, New York. Simkowitz has had the honor of helping hundreds of high-net-worth clients complete effective estate plans and is consistently a top-ranked leader and innovator in the industry. For more information, visitwww.simkowitzco.com. (SimkowitzCo does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice.)
This article appeared in Advisor Today.