The financial service industry is integrated daily into the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Whether it be banking, financial planning, or accounting, without these services, the economy as a whole would fail.
If you are thinking about diving into the sector and starting a company that provides financial services, building a strong brand image is vital to your long term success. Here are the 10 steps you should take to launch you ahead of your competition.
Step 1 : A Strong Leadership
Top bosses of the company should not only focus on providing a valuable products and a good customer service, they must be equally employee-centric as well. Motivated employees provide a strong foundation which is required for building a stellar brand image. Adequate steps must be taken to ensure that the approach of top bosses inspires, strengthens and unites employees. Hiring people who understand your brand value and believe in it. Opening proper communication channels between employees and the leadership.
Step 2 : Determine your ideal client base
One of the most important steps to take when it comes to starting any business and/or developing a strong brand, is to find out who your clientele is. You start doing this by asking yourself some questions. What financial service am I providing? What age group do my services appeal to? What is the income level of my ideal client?
Continue asking yourself more and more detailed questions about who you want to provide services to. Narrowing your audience down to a specific audience can make your branding a lot more powerful. For instance, if you are starting a financial planning firm that specializes in retirement planning, you may want your target audience to be people that are within 10 years of retiring, and who may have the income to spend money on your services.
Once you’ve found out your client base, you can start building your brand using what you’ve learned, which begins in the next steps.
Step 3 : Determine your mission statement.
A mission statement, not to be confused with a tagline or slogan, is a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. While your mission statement isn’t outward facing, it can have a tremendous impact on how your branding is built.
In simpler terms, your mission statement is about what you do and why you do it. A cause for your business. Going back to step 2, you need to create your mission statement that focuses around your targeted clientele. Going back to being a financial planner that specializes in retirement planning, your mission statement may be along the lines of “Our mission is to build a foundation for our clients future, that cultivates empowerment and freedom through personal success”
Your mission statement can be long or short, but make sure it builds a sense of trust within your company that will reflect outward toward your clients throughout your branding process.
Step 4 : Identify the unique benefits your services provide.
Banks, credit unions, credit card companies, and financial planning firms all provide more or less the same service, which is managing money. However why do you choose one bank over another, or one credit card over another if they essentially serve the same purpose?
The reason all comes down to the specific benefits that one company may provide that the other doesn’t. One credit card company may have great card benefits while another offers a low starting APR. Any benefits that you have that you can differentiate yourself from your competition is key to winning over clientele in the same industry.
Things that can set you apart are things like
● Exceptional Customer Service
● Lower Rates
● Better Availability
● Larger Selection of Products
● Better Efficiency
Again going back to step 1 be sure your benefits are appealing specifically to your target clientele. This step can be the make it or break it when it comes to successfully creating a strong brand.
Step 5 : Creating a logo that’s simple, yet bold
A logo is usually the first image that pops into someone’s mind when a recognized company is mentioned. This is the first step that starts to put your previous efforts into a visual representation.
Chances are that you probably aren’t a designer, so you may need to seek a professionals help on the technical side of this step, but the ideas are still in your control.
In today’s day and age, less is more. Your logo should capture the feel and objective of your company without being too flashy or space hogging. Your logo is going to be on every page of your website and on every document, every email, and every business card you hand out, becoming a crucial part of your brand’s identity.
If you look across the financial services industry, you will find that a large portion of the logos, are just designed text of the company name without any fancy icons or imagery, which works really well.
A tagline may also help set your logo apart from other companies. Going back to the example of a financial planner that specializes in retirement planning, you may use a tagline such as “retirement made simple” or “Retiring? We’ll take it from here”.
Step 6 : Determine your brand’s personality
What kind of personality does your brand portray? Think about what you want your clientele to think of your business when engaging with them.
Are you humorously personable, like Wendy’s with their twitter account, or are you more professional and concise, with a strict no nonsense approach?
While there isn’t a right or wrong persona to establish, the financial service industry may seem a little dull to some. Think about being different from everyone else and bringing a new light to the industry with a more conversational approach. Anything to separate yourself from the competition, in a good way, will help your brand mature.
Step 7 : Provide free content
Nothing strengthens your brand and entices future clientele quite like providing free content or products. If you have a website (which you should), try adding a blog section or a free resource section to add value for your clients and future clients.
An example of this may be an article that gives people a checklist of things they should do before they retire or how to guide on increasing your credit score.
You can then use this content for marketing by engaging on social media, which brings us to the next step.
Step 8: Get Social
After creating you logo, your brand is beginning to take shape, and you need to make sure to feed it so that it will continue to grow stronger. One of the best ways to this in this time of media and internet, is to start engaging on social media.
Consistently engaging and bringing content to people on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, can significantly increase your presence and enhance your image because it shows that you are with the times.
Use your content from step 6 to really get people engaging with your brand and your business.
Step 9 : SEO
Along with the 2 previous steps, you need to be sure you are able to be found on the web, specifically Google. When people search for the services you provide, you need to be sure that you are showing up as a top result in google, that leads to your website and your content.
Going back to the example of a retirement planner, if someone is going to be searching for “retirement plan”, make sure your content is integrating those keywords so that future clients can be brought your way.
Step 10: Avoid Accounts Receivable mistakes
There is a strong relationship between debt collection and branding. Without a comprehensive accounts receivable management approach, you will certainly annoy many clients, who would have otherwise continued to give business for many more years. Accounts receivable may happen due to an oversight or even due to circumstances which are temporary in nature. Your approach on past-due accounts strongly influences a company reputation and ratings. Hiring only reputable collection agencies with vast experience in your field, who take adequate measures to avoid damaging your customer relationships is important. Hiring a good Collection Agency is an integral part of your brand reputation.
Step 11: Help the needy
A company which can demonstrate that it participates in socially-beneficial activities boosts its reputation. People get the impression that the business is being run by ethically nice and morally good people. Provide scholarship to some college students, participate in a local food bank’s activities or do something for poor kids. Not only you help the needy, but you will also create a rock-solid reputation of your financial company. Publish all those charitable activities on your website under the Blog or Events section.
Creating a strong brand image in the financial service industry is very similar to doing so in any other industry. The first and most important thing is to create your brand about what your clients want, and not want YOU want. Keeping products that are simple to understand and can be easily understood by your clients.
Also, consistency is key. Stick with your brand image and do not stray from it! A strong brand is not meant to be changed or forgotten. The key to staying relevant is to never stop marketing yourself and to never stop engaging in the community and online.
One last thing you should try to do is create professional relationships and partnerships. You may be able to partner with another company that also provides financial services, but lacks the services that you provide. If you form that relationship, many of their clients will be referred to you, further strengthening your brand and presence.