Financial Branding – Soul with a Capital S

18th January 2020

Many years ago the ‘grand masters of groove’, The Tower Of Power, talked about Soul with a capital S. And it’s a vital ingredient in approaching financial branding today.

A brand is the soul of an organisation. It is far more than a logo. It embodies a single vision for the firm, a totem of everything it stands for, is proud of and is committed to.

What is interesting in relation to financial brands is the high percentage of market capitalisation that is attributable to brand value. Brand is therefore arguably any organisation’s most valuable asset.

However, all marketers have probably been guilty at some point of simply focusing on the ‘what’. Take a random look at some financial firms’ websites and you will see a fair few starting with the facts, figures and features – how old they are, areas of specialisation and how they are ranked in their industry.

However, such features frequently fail to connect with a time-poor target audience at an emotional level and are extremely unlikely to impact their perceptions of the brand.

In other words, what you do is not your differentiator.

Many brand development processes involve a branding agency ‘telling’ the client what they need. It is usually a protracted process and the firm does not always love the solution. Long processes are arduous, lose focus and are expensive.

In a service business, the brand lives through the people in the organisation. It is a product of a thousand gestures. Therefore their active involvement is crucial.

So we at Financial Marketing have flipped perceived wisdom on its head and produced a one day Brand Workshop that is quick, inclusive, energising and highly effective.

It’s inspiring to watch teams working together closely to define their ‘soul’. We always see people walking in with different views and walking out energised with a truly differentiated, single-minded purpose and shared vision – brand essence, brand pillars, unique value propositions, vocabulary, tone of voice and elevator pitch.

One of our investment clients neatly summed up the experience from his perspective: “I have now experienced brand workshops for three of my businesses at different stages of development, from start-up to Royal Warrant holders. In an effective way, the workshop participants are challenged to re-consider their approach to selling and marketing their products and their business. In each case, the management of the business has left with a dramatically enhanced clarity of thought in respect of their business proposition. Whilst each business has extracted a range of specific benefits from the workshop, the common theme is that things will never be the same again.”

Everything we sell in the financial world is based on delivering some form of promise – “I promise to pay you this money if your house falls down” – “I promise to look after your money and make it grow”. How we engage the hearts and minds of everyone in the organisation in the delivery of those promises defines brand success.

If we start with Soul in financial branding, our words, thoughts and deeds will groove naturally.