Mike Holden (pictured above), Georgina Partridge and Danny Cox explain what their firms have been doing to establish a strong brand, including the choice of name, logo and colour, and what message they want to convey.
Chief executive, Lift-Financial
We chose the name Lift in part because no other financial company had it. We remain the only advice company with that title.
We think branding should tell a story, so we also chose the name because it tells ours. Lift describes being raised to a new status. It embodies our aspirations to improve our business and our clients’ lives.
Bring in the experts
We established the Lift-Financial Group brand by using branding consultant Nick Morgan. I did not understand branding, so it was essential to have an professional’s perspective to simplify and express our company’s mission.
He asked my business partner and I fundamental questions about what motivated us, our opinions about financial services, the principles we wanted to reflect, and the shapes and colours we preferred. The result was a branding we like and of which we are proud.
We have offices in Edinburgh, London and Manchester, so we use a branding guidance document to ensure branding consistency across the business.
We have a quarterly meeting that all employees attend and the brand message is always reiterated. We also include our branding in our briefings for new employees.
Social media is an integral part of our branding strategy. We aim to ensure all our employees use the Lift logo on their LinkedIn profiles, and I am no different.
Partner, Plutus Wealth
Our brand message is that we are young, professional and extremely hard working, so we have aligned it with a similar target audience: young career-building City employees, who are driven and highly qualified.
Target the message
On our website we have presented ourselves in a healthy, smart and City-oriented way with confidence and professionalism.
This was just one of the changes we made last year, when consultancy firm Standards International reviewed our business. It recommended we foreground our professionalism, not just to attract young clients, but also to define our space in the marketplace. Independent financial advice has become increasingly professionalised so we needed to show our skills as well as our relative youth.
We have never used social media specifically to bring in new clients, but it is an important branding tool. Branding should reassure customers that they can expect a professional and consistent service. This is why we use the Plutus logo consistently across social media and our black-and-white website portraits on LinkedIn.
Potential clients will always research the company online and through social media, so visual consistency reassures them if they have an enquiry.
You can always spend more on branding. I find it useful when other firms have calculators on their website, but we are yet to research how beneficial that would be to our profit margins.
Chartered financial planner, Hargreaves Lansdown
One of our core branding values is listening to customers, and we do this in ways that other companies do not, which keeps our brand unique.
We stick rigidly to our eight-second phone-answering rule as a means of ensuring customers do not have to listen to answer machines; and some of the 4,000 email enquiries we receive every week are answered by our chief executive, Ian Gorham.
Learn from trial and error
We do not have a guide on how literature should be written, but the use of trial and error has allowed us to gauge how letters should be presented. For instance, we once sent letters in different fonts to 10,000 people. The font that prompted the most replies was the one we used thereafter.
We also run periodic survey groups at our Bristol offices, where we learn things we would not through online surveys. It was clear at a recent survey group, for example, that many clients were deeply offended by the possibility of compulsory advice. This human interaction gives us an edge.
Message in a logo
We have reviewed our logo many times and questioned whether the colouring is correct. It remains corporate blue because we believe that attracts clientele looking for a dignified and professional service. The colour is a consistent part of our branding on the website and in literature.
Our employees deliver our brand from day one at the firm. Our induction process includes a general briefing on core values and a departmental face-to-face meeting to ensure employees deliver on the company’s promises: to deliver the best information and the best service at the best price.