Going Independent

Information, Resources, and Insights for Independent RIAs

Branding 101 for Financial Advisors

How to Create and Periodically Refresh Your Brand Essentials as you Build Trust and Win Business as an RIA Today

If you are establishing a new RIA, the first thing you need to do is to determine your company name and then bring your brand to life through a visually-compelling logo and corresponding images (illustrations, photos, graphics) that should reinforce the character, culture and competence of your firm.

Sometimes the hardest part of establishing your new firm will be coming up with a unique name that expresses who you are and the value you promise to provide to clients. Many of the good names will already be in use and your attorney or compliance team may tell you that using your best idea just won’t fly.

One trick that the big branding agencies use is to make a list of words that mean something to you but then Google around for the Greek, Latin or Spanish equivalent. Just make sure that your company name is easy to say, see, spell and remember. You might have to use a hybrid word (meaning, a portion of two words put together to form a new word that becomes your company name). Get your team and trusted colleagues and family members involved and, while you’re at it, brainstorm some benefit-laden taglines as well.

Try to say what you do and how you help people in short phrases and jot them down on a white board or note pad. Play with the keywords to create a concise, punchy tagline that will aptly supplement your company name

Unless you are married to or best friends with a graphic designer or branding expert, you will probably want to work with a qualified marketing communications professional to determine the logo and images for your newly established firm. While some business owners have been happy with online “logo mills” such as 99Designs or online directories that list freelance resources, just beware that your results may be mixed – do your research before jumping at the cheapest offer

Sometimes it is better to ask other business owners you know who they have used and then check out that company or professional resource versus hoping you get a get result from a turnkey online logo generation service (often the creators will be foreign, not US based, and that might be a problem in bringing a true understanding of your firm’s aesthetics).

Colors are important, and so are the type fonts you use. Google around and read up on “color psychology” —  think carefully before you commit to bright or garish colors unless you are really trying to evoke the feeling of being a bit of a rebel. If your logo ends up being a little staid color-wise it may be more likely to stand the test of time. You can always spice things up with full color photography that accentuates and amplifies your logo color and meaning.

There are many stock photography sites that offer good, low-cost options to supplement your custom / original photos (the photos you take of your office or staff, either in a studio or at your meeting location).

WHAT ABOUT EXISTING RIAs?

If you are an existing RIA, it may make sense to refresh your brand every so often – for instance, if you are celebrating 20 years as a firm, you could do a brand refresh as part of your 20th anniversary commemoration. Logo aesthetics and social norms change over time so take a look at your essential brand elements – your logo, brochure, stationary, pitch book and website – every 3-4 years.

Ask your clients and staff if it might be time for a refresh. A tired or dated brand does not help you build trust. You probably repaint your house or touch up your landscaping every few years, and everyone in the neighborhood feels better about your being a part of the community. Think of your brand refresh that way – you don’t have to do a major overhaul (and that’s probably not a great idea anyway as you want some brand continuity) so make a visual impact.

Study your peers and other companies you admire and, while you don’t want to just copy what they are doing, consider how they are evolving to stay current and keep a fresh face forward.

PUTTING YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD

Speaking of putting your best face forward, make sure you get new headshots every 3-5 years. For the most part, women will need to do new photos more often than men due to the fact that hairstyles and clothing styles change more quickly for the female gender.

Look for a business photographer in your locale who has good studio lighting and understands how to pose their subjects so they look their best. Consider, too, having the photographer come to your office to capture some “action shots” of you and your team working in your natural habitat – those images can be used on your website and social media, brochures and pitch book, etc

BUILDING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

Every advisor needs to work on and continually improve their online presence. And that will be the subject of a future blog post, so stay tuned to the TradePMR social media accounts, which is where we announce our newest articles and blog content additions.

GET PROFESSIONAL BRANDING ADVICE AT THE 2018 SYNERGY CONFERENCE

Also, we hope you will consider joining us for the special Branding Reception taking place May 16th in San Diego at our 2018 Synergy Conference. We’ll have branding, marketing, PR and social media experts there to provide 1:1 advice and information.

Synergy is an annual educational conference focused exclusively on the success of growth-driven independent RIAs. The 2018 conference will take place in San Diego, California May 16-18 and will feature industry thought-leaders, valuable insights, and the information and resources designed to help you take your business to the next level. Click here to learn more about Synergy 2018.

Trade-PMR, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC

 

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