The Comprehensive Guide to Financial Advisor Branding
Think of some of the most well-known experts in the wealth management industry…
- Michael Kitces, founder and chief financial planning nerd at Kitces.com
- Samantha Russell, the chief evangelist at FMG Suite
- Carl Richards, cartoonist for the New York Times and founder of The Behavior Gap
- Diana Cabrices, chief evangelist for B2B wealth tech brands
- Craig Iskowitz, renowned business and technology strategy consultant to the industry
…The list of industry leaders goes on and on.
When thinking about these individuals, what do they all have in common?
They all have a well-developed, trustworthy brand.
Cultivating a personal brand as a financial advisor is critical to winning and retaining clients and earning trust over time. It’s possible to apply a few important lessons from these industry leaders. This post will cover how advisors can cultivate a personal brand, and what an advisor needs to create a brand for their firm, from choosing a name to creating a visual identity.
Why personal branding for financial advisors is important
The financial services industry, especially the RIA sector, lives on the foundation of trust. Money is incredibly intimate, and people will only work with those they find credible and trustworthy enough to manage their hard-earned wealth.
But what you may not know is that building that crucial trust starts much, much sooner than you realize. From the moment people hear your name, see your logo, or watch you in a video, they’re already starting to decide if they like you or not—and they may not even know it.
This means that you have the power to control the way people perceive you by building a brand that reflects your values, beliefs, and abilities.
Financial advisor branding: best practices
So while we know it’s important to build a brand, you need to know what, exactly, “building a brand” entails.
If you are an advisor that is part of a larger RIA, BD, or wirehouse, then your focus will be on cultivating a personal brand while leaning into the brand equity of your company association. If you are an advisor starting your own firm, then your personal brand will be intertwined with the brand that you create for your firm.
Too many small businesses like to think of a brand as their name and logo. But think back to those examples we shared at the beginning. The reality is, a successful brand paints a complete picture of who they are. You can follow these examples whether building a brand for you personally or for your firm.
Every single touchpoint a client or prospective client experiences is a reflection of you and your brand. This could include emails, social posts, advertisements, videos, appreciation events or even onboarding documents. Creating consistency across all touchpoints is what helps make your brand stronger, more recognizable, and, ultimately, more trustworthy.
Creating growth across the firm is the key to longevity and scalability, which means your firm must prioritize building comprehensive, cohesive branding.
Choosing Your Firm Name
The first step in building a brand is to choose a name for your firm. Sounds easy enough, but this can actually be quite the challenge.
Think about what makes a good name. It should be:
- easy to spell or pronounce
- reflective of you
You’ll be using this name to establish trust and credibility, which means you need to be thoughtful and perceptive when choosing it.
For example, say your family has lived in the same small town for generations. They’ve given generously to the community over the years and remain active to this day. If your primary target market is high earners in your local area, it may make sense to incorporate your family’s name somewhere in your firm name. It has the unique advantage of instant recognition and familiarity amongst your target audience.
You’ll also want to decide if your name needs a descriptive element in it, such as “Wealth Management” or “Financial Planners.” This can help viewers quickly identify what your firm does, but it’s not always necessary. You may, for example, be able to portray what you do in your tagline or logo.
As you think through potential names, try to avoid tired cliches. There are certain visuals that advisory firms tend to gravitate towards such as trees, pathways, mountains, or waterways. If you’re looking to name your firm after one of these concepts, chances are there are 100 or so advisory firms across the country that are already using that name.
Creating a Visual Identity
Once you’ve come up with some name ideas, or even solidified a final contender, then it’s time to consider how you want your visual identity to look.
People process images 60,000 times faster than they register text. The visual elements of your brand need to be just as reflective of you as your firm name is. They’ll help bring your brand to life and give viewers something easy to remember and refer back to when they hear your name.
Colors aren’t just about making an aesthetically pleasing brand, they invoke emotions in the viewer as well. For example, blue is calming and relaxing — which is why so many advisors use it in their branding.
While you may be naturally attracted to a blue palette, keep in mind that your brand may benefit from a more unique combination of colors.
Think about how colors make people feel, or color psychology. It may not seem that important, but colors can invoke a subconscious feeling that makes potential clients either more attracted or more adverse to your branding.
Here is a quick example of how other colors tend to make people feel:
Red: While red can be energetic and exciting, it also tends to mean bad things in finance. For that reason, most firms stay away from it. But if you do choose to include red in your color palette, consider opting for something that’s subdued or desaturated.
Orange: Orange is bold, youthful, and invigorating. This can be great for a younger audience, but it may not resonate well with older or more traditional ultra-high-net-worth clients.
Yellow: Yellow is another warm tone, and it’s often associated with cheerfulness and brightness. Just keep in mind that yellow can be a hard color to view on screens, so it may not appear quite as you want it to on a website or email.
Green: Green is another common color for advisory firms. When taken quite literally, it’s the color of the money. But it also goes well with nature imagery, which can be calming and serene.
Purple: Depending on how rich or deep the shade is, purple can come across as luxurious and high-end. But lighter purples, like lavender, are more commonly used for firms that specialize in working with women.
You also need to consider the type of fonts you use when crafting your logo and all marketing collateral (including website, printed newsletters, onboarding documents, etc.).
While you want to be distinct and stand out from the crowd, you also want something that’s functional and easy to read, especially if your audience is older.
Maybe you’re naturally attracted to a curly, cursive font, but think about it in terms of readability and practicality. If people can’t make out what your firm name is, you’re going to face more hurdles trying to build a brand. The last thing you want is a prospective client passing your firm up because they can’t read your messaging.
The final piece of branding we’ll cover is how you can develop a logo, as well as a logo mark (which includes your logo and brand name). Both your logo and logo mark should be able to stand on their own as separate pieces that can be used for different purposes.
Think of some of the world’s most recognizable logos: Pepsi, Nike, Apple, Google, McDonalds, etc.
When you have an effective logo that stands on its own, people can instantly recognize your brand even when your name isn’t attached to it.
Your website should serve as the hub of your branding efforts. It’s going to be the most impactful place for your brand to be seen, and it will set the tone for how your company is perceived.
Once your website is in line with your branding efforts, it’ll act as a guide for how all other marketing collateral and firm communications should be presented visually.
Pro Tip: Think about what keywords your audience would likely search for when looking for financial advice and try to write your website to provide value around them.
How to Create a Winning Brand Message
Your brand message is where you really get to tell your story and share your value with potential clients.
To create a brand message, start by considering your current clients. What type of people would you like to attract to your firm in the future? Firm-wide growth requires a long-term look at the future. So if there’s a certain profession or industry you’d like to work with more, try to incorporate that into your brand messaging.
It’s not uncommon for firms to naturally develop certain specializations or niches over time. One client who’s a healthcare professional may tell his coworkers about a positive experience he had with your firm. More physicians come to you for financial planning services from that hospital. You quickly develop a knack for helping these doctors and physicians optimize their complex compensation packages or manage student loan debt.
As a result, you’ve developed a niche — and you may not have even realized it!
You certainly don’t have to box yourself into a corner, but letting others know you have certain specializations or areas of expertise can really help you stand out from the crowd.
Once you know who you’re marketing to, try crafting a brand message that addresses the problems your clients have and how you solve them. While it sounds counterintuitive, your messaging shouldn’t be all about you.
In fact, by taking a client-focused approach, you’re helping readers either self-identify as ideal potential clients or weed themselves out as not being a good fit. The more specific and clear your message is, the easier it’ll be for readers to do this.
Keep in mind that there are things that may be implied or obvious to you, but that’s not always the case for your readers or viewers. To make sure your branding message is crystal clear, ask some people (preferably those outside of the industry) to read it through a couple of times. If it makes sense to them and conveys the right message, then you’re probably in good shape.
Don’t Forget Your Tagline
To create a tagline, think through your unique value proposition. Use the tagline to speak directly and with transparency to current and future clients.
Again, this is something you may want to run by people who are not involved in the firm or industry. Give them a few seconds to look at your logo, firm name and tagline, then ask them to share their initial thoughts and impressions. Does it align with the vision you were going for? Or do you need to tweak your messaging?
Taglines are important, and it’s okay that it may take your firm a few iterations to get it right.
The Best Marketing Strategies for Financial Advisors
Once you’ve spent ample time developing, testing, and finalizing your brand, you’ll need to make sure people actually see it.
One of the best financial advisor marketing strategies is to create original content.
By creating and disseminating fresh content to your audience, you’re ensuring that your brand stays top-of-mind. The more positive impressions you make with your brand, the more likely someone is to recommend you or work with you when the time is right.
Content marketing is a great way to create educational resources that speak directly to your clients. It puts you in the “hero” position as a knowledgeable thought leader who can help them address their financial concerns. In other words, it helps them see why you could be the best fit for them.
Branding is the first step, but content marketing is really the driving force behind getting more eyes on your firm and qualified leads in your inbox.
Build Your Brand and Grow Your Firm with Nitrogen
With a brand that’s thoughtful and reflective of your firm, you’re ready to attract a new generation of highly qualified clients. Nitrogen helps RIAs identify the right kind of leads to help with their greater goals of firmwide growth.
Don’t forget to schedule your complimentary tour of Nitrogen today.