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Brand new thinking: is your advice firm’s brand up to the mark?

Faith Liversedge suggests that sometimes it pays to think small as she highlights why paying attention to the detail – the tiny things we so often overlook – can make such a difference to business success

There are a hundred different elements that make up a company’s brand. Well, maybe not a hundred, but there are certainly lots of them.

What I mean is, a brand is more than just a logo.

There are many more imperceptible, almost invisible elements that contribute to a company’s image, which means there are a lot more ways for you and your firm to be judged.

We, as consumers, are now highly sensitised to a wide range of elements that can tell us about the company we might engage with, and therefore influence our decision. So let’s take a look at some of those more ‘sensory’ aspects.

Take sound

With more and more of us plugging ourselves into music, podcasts and TV on-the-go, at the gym and who knows where else, we’re generally finding that listening is a convenient, efficient and enjoyable way to take in information and / or be entertained.

But it’s also a way of getting right to the emotions – just think of how music can provoke a response.

So the strategic use of sound can play an important role in differentiating your service, and building trust.

What do I mean by this? Well, lots of people use ‘hold’ music on their phone lines, but does your playlist reflect who you are as a business? Or is it just the default choice? This is an opportunity to decide whether something tranquil and classical or upbeat and modern suits who you are and who you want to work. All of these tiny clues can subtly help to create one impression or another of your business – at potentially a crucial point of the onboarding process.

Video voiceovers are another area to consider. A recent Facebook IQ study confirmed that 80% of story adverts with voice-over or music led to better results than adverts without sound. But who should you choose? Again, people can’t help but judge you on these things, so think about whether the voice should be male or female, accented or not. Received pronunciation may create an ultra high networth feel that you do or don’t want. An accented voice would provide a local backdrop that, again you might deliberately want to convey or move away from.

Take vision

I’ve previously waxed lyrical on these pages about the harm dodgy stock photos can do to a brand’s image – particularly in financial services. And I’m sure most people are aware of the need to include copy that’s professional, clear and friendly.

But what about those other tiny visual elements that sit in important places that we might only give a passing thought to? I’m talking about microcopy: that the little bit of copy – one or two words – that come at key moments within your customer’s journey.

This might be on a button that’s encouraging you to ‘read more’ or ‘submit’ your information. And although tiny, again these elements can come at crucial points in your prospect’s journey, so it’s worth considering the alternatives.

For example, when you think about it, ‘submit’ feels quite formal and stuffy, especially compared to ‘go for it!’ which has a friendly tone, but might feel too brash for some. It’s about making sure there’s consistency throughout and ensuring that these elements add something to your overall message rather than detract from it.

Error messages are another area microcopy can work hard to put people at ease – for example, what does your website error page say? If you’re not taking the opportunity to reassure people in a light-hearted way at this point, it’s another missed chance for you to stand out.

For example LinkedIn’s ‘Oops, it’s not you it’s us. Please give us another try.’ Is much friendlier than ‘Page not found’ and shows that they’re taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Wifi passwords are another place you put your brand’s stamp. Coffee shops and pubs do this well. My favourite wifi password is a self-service wine shop in London’s Spittalfields, which uses ‘Less net more wine’: fun, cheeky and brimming with personality.

Take taste

If your brand were a cocktail what would it be? I’m partly joking here, but this might help you to think about your firm’s image beyond the more traditional elements of colour, logo, font etc. And you never know when you may host your own cocktail making class…

In short, give a little thought to these small but significant elements of your brand, because they might carry with them the ability to help shape your message. Think about whether, rather than going for the default option, you can put your own stamp on them, and therefore impact almost every interaction a prospect or client might have with you. But make sure it’s in tune with your brand’s DNA, otherwise it could be confusing!

About Faith Liversedge

Faith Liversedge is an experienced communicator with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the adviser profession. She was Marketing Manager at Nucleus for 5 years, creating innovative and award-winning campaigns. Before that she worked for Standard Life, Prudential and Royal London. In 2017 she set up her own consultancy to help forward-thinking financial advisers and planners to become more profitable through websites, communications and other laser-focused marketing techniques.

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