Connect your brand to your audience
Humans are meaning-making machines. We have an underlying drive to make sense of life events, relationships, and the self, and we create stories or narratives to interpret and achieve this goal. This constant search for meaning is a driving force behind many of our decisions, including the way we shop and the businesses we choose to patronize. If we define a brand as the relationship a customer has with a business, storytelling humanizes that connection. This is why having an established brand is important: with it, you define the character of your business and the story you want to tell to clients and prospects. I have noticed that many financial professionals tend to overlook this critical aspect of their own business.
The most well-renowned brands in the world aren’t simply selling a product or a service; they’re selling a specific lifestyle to a specific person. We can probably easily identify an acquaintance who wears the latest branded hats, shoes, and clothes from Nike, even if they aren’t athletic. We can likely articulate what distinguishes Whole Foods from Trader Joe’s despite the fact that they sell many of the same products. Everything these brands do reinforces a narrative they have crafted.
So, how can you strengthen your brand’s storytelling skills to set yourself apart from the competition?
Stop hiding behind performance data and connect with your clients, human-to-human. Personal finance is just that: personal. Financial professionals rely heavily on facts, figures, and data to prove their value and elicit trust from their clients; this work is easily quantifiable, so it’s low-hanging fruit. Advisors may often neglect the qualifiable: the personal and relatable elements that remind clients that there’s a living, breathing person behind the data making decisions on behalf of their finances. Sure, you can demonstrate good returns and wise money management… but if I was your client, I’d ask how I can trust you with my financial future when your figures haven’t demonstrated that you really know me as a person?
Get busy and get to know your audience! People buy into brands that align with their perspectives. What are the primary motivations of your core audience? What are their biggest challenges? What are their personal and professional values, and where do they overlap with your brand? Decide on your approach. How will you help your core audience relate? The approach honed by BFF marketing, the notion that a brand is your friend and is designing products especially for you, is a narrative considered core to the success of many women’s B2C womenswear and beauty brands. If your business were a person, would your clients want to go out for coffee or cocktails with it?
Tell a consistent story. More now than ever, we live in a branded world, and consumers are exposed to thousands of brands every day. People are more likely to trust a brand that feels cohesive and delivers a consistent experience across every lane of communication. Remember that psychologically, your brand exists as a relationship, so you want to avoid “brand schizophrenia:” if your brand is inconsistent in its expression, it may come across as undeveloped, unreliable, or unpredictable.
At FiComm, we take our clients through a comprehensive discovery process before commencing any work. This process reveals unique nuggets of insight that inform the next phase of engagement. We then distill those findings into messaging, which creates the foundation for project-specific copywriting, and a set of “brand filter” words that drive the creation of a visual brand identity. This ensures that the messaging and the visual branding are cut from the same cloth. Our process ensures that nothing is created in a vacuum.
Include consistent visuals in your brand storytelling. Visual storytelling draws on cultural and psychological associations with color, imagery, shape, and form. For example, the color blue is universally associated with trust, security, and safety, which is why many companies in healthcare, finance, and tech utilize blue in their branding. Alternatively, orange conjures ideas of independence, innovation, adventure, and creativity, often used in food, sports, and entertainment industries.
As creative professionals, we leverage these archetypes while making branding decisions to craft a specific story. An RIA firm we worked with recently is located in a Midwest hub of entrepreneurship and innovation, but targets multi-generational clients, so we created a color palette of conservative blues with a pop of vibrant orange that aligned with the brand filters we identified and speaks to both of its older and younger target demographics.
To shift your perspective towards storytelling, I challenge you to complete a quick mental audit of your own brand:
- What’s your mission statement? What are your core values? Does your brand’s expression feel like it aligns with them, or does it feel disconnected?
- Think about your founding circumstances or the members of your team. Is there a unique story buried in there that could be an emotional connection point for a client?
- Where are you located geographically, and is that a critical part of how you see your identity?
- Is your visual branding aligned with the way you talk to your clients (friendly, serious, prescriptive, with humor) and the way you deliver your content (email newsletters, Instagram, intimate workshops)?
FiComm works with a client that sends out thoughtfully crafted quarterly newsletters via snail mail. While another firm might not make the same choice, it makes sense for this firm’s audience: a small community that values tradition, neighborly relationships, and a simple lifestyle.
We are overwhelmed with content and the average human attention span is narrowing. In a crowded marketplace, your audience is more likely to remember if they felt a connection to your brand’s story than the data and statistics you presented them with.
What you say, and how you say it, matters. Send us a note, and let’s talk about how your brand can stand out from the masses via thoughtful marketing.