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What is Branding?
2024-03-18 • 2 minute read

Understanding Financial Advisor Branding: It's More Than Just Marketing

Simply put, it's someone's interpretation for value being offered that aligns with a want or need that they have - even if occasionally that want or need is subconscious. Branding activates an awareness for and trust in something that often triggers an instant appreciation for how your value can benefit their life. It's different from marketing. Branding is the client's view of a value proposition, where marketing is the vendor's pitch trying to land and resonate. Marketing is a claim. It's advertising in an attempt to create awareness for your value. It is essentially a promise statement. "You should try this. You'll like it!" As you know, marketing can often prompt a skeptical reaction or complete apathy.

If we were to say, "We are good coaches," that is marketing - again, it's a claim. If you were to tell us, "You are good coaches," that's branding. If a stranger called us and said, "A friend of mine insisted that I call you. He told me that you are good coaches," that would be branding in action moving the needle. Marketing is what you say - branding is what they hear and then relay on to someone else.

Branding is an outward expression of your value that is interpreted based on the prospective client's frame of reference, their current provider and other vendors they are vetting. It activates an awareness for an unmet need which they have that you could fulfill. It is the first impression for a prospective client, not unlike the curb-appeal of a house that's for sale, or the esthetics of anything that gets someone's attention early in a relationship. When you see a piece of art for the first time or listen to a song or try on a new shirt or taste food that instantly and automatically impacts you - there is an invisible connection, and there is nothing stopping it. You want it. You rationalize it. You convince yourself that you need it. It's like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Nothing stops this. The desire does not fade and unravel the way the impact of a sales pitch can.

Branding is not just a first impression, though. It's a lasting impression. Professional contrast is not a one-off event. It is something that must occur on an ongoing basis for as long as the relationship exists. In the spirit of advocacy, branding impacts how you are perceived and how you are described. In part, it's fueled by how you articulate, communicate and demonstrate your value to stand out from the pack. It's a sequential flow of value, communicated so that somebody can understand and appreciate everything your value does in an ascending way, and then it's your consistent execution that backs it all up after the person opts in.

Branding not only impacts prospective clients and existing clients, it impacts other influencers like strategic partners. Branding is the lifeblood of advocacy. It is reputational and can be relayed. Marketing can create transactions, but does not go anywhere near as far as branding when it comes to referrals. Introductions from advocates are a recurring revenue stream for your business and build the very fabric of your business. Transacting is like sewing without a knot at the end of the thread. Lastly, and it bears repeating, branding helps achieve stewardship, meaning your value is bought, not sold. 

Key takeaways:

What is branding? It's not just a logo or slogan. It's the overall perception of your business in the minds of your target audience. Branding goes beyond marketing to create trust, recognition, and loyalty.

Here's how branding differs from Financial Advisor Marketing:

  • Marketing is the "what you say" - your claims and promises about your value proposition.
  • Branding is the "what they hear" - how your target audience interprets your value and communicates it to others.

Think of branding as the curb appeal of your business. It's the first impression that grabs attention and sparks interest. Strong branding can create an unconscious desire for your product or service, similar to how a delicious dish or a beautiful piece of art can instantly captivate you.

The Benefits of Powerful Branding:

  • Increased brand awareness and recognition
  • Stronger client relationships and loyalty
  • Improved reputation and credibility
  • Effective word-of-mouth marketing and referrals
  • Premium pricing potential
  • Attracting and retaining top talent

Building a Strong Brand is critical for Financial Advisors:

  • Clearly define your value proposition. What unique benefit do you offer?
  • Develop a consistent brand identity. This includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts) and messaging (tone of voice, personality).
  • Deliver on your brand promises. Every client interaction should reinforce your brand identity.
  • Actively engage with your audience. Build relationships and encourage positive word-of-mouth.

By investing in branding, you're investing in the long-term success of your business. A strong brand will not only attract new clients but also turn them into loyal advocates who drive sustainable growth.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related articles:

The Subtle Power of Branding, Differentiating Begins with a Personal Branding Strategy


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert to learn more about our Coaching Programs. 

Or learn more about our Financial Advisor Business Coaching at paretosystems.com


Keywords: branding, brand awareness, brand identity, brand loyalty, marketing, client perception, value proposition

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