What is a brand? When we hear the name of companies like Verizon, Levi’s or Ford, we know the products and services they represent. They have widely recognized brands.
Often, a brand is thought of as the visual imagery associated with a company (logo, signage or advertisement). A brand is also viewed as the messaging or tag line, for instance, “Can you hear me now?” or “What does brown do for you?”
Defining the brand
But as an agent or advisor, what is your brand? Is it your firm or broker-dealer’s brand and recognition that becomes yours? From my experience, branding in the financial services industry can be simplified and explained very simply. Your brand is what people say about you.
Your brand is not your logo, your color scheme, your tag line, your ‘elevator speech’ or even you. Your brand is how someone else describes you, your firm, your staff, your offerings. And, your brand exists whether you like it or not. So, how do you think people are describing you?
You may have heard the Bonnie Raitt song, “Let’s Give ‘Em Something To Talk About.” In that song, Bonnie sings that people will ‘talk about us anyway’ so we need to ‘give ‘em something really good to talk about.’ The problem in business is, if we don’t give them something to talk about, we lose control as to what they may say–positive or negative.
The good news is that you can control your brand. You can control what people say about you. Your brand–your image, how you are received and perceived–is one of the most important things that you have control over in your business.
Your brand created through the media
When a newspaper, trade journal, magazine, radio or TV station quotes you or uses your press release or article, you’ve established one of the most valuable aspects of branding: your credibility!
Let the world know about awards you’ve won, charity and community involvement, your new designations or events. Write a press release and submit it to the media. The key to every release is the lead paragraph that relays most of the information.
The lead paragraph answers the 5 W’s: Who, What, When Where and Why. If you answer these questions, you will have the makings of a great press release. And, if you don’t feel comfortable writing a press release yourself, hire a college English student or freelance writer to help you.
Once you’re in the media, market your clips and coverage back to your clients and prospects. Send reprints and a cover letter. Include your press releases (whether they were printed or not) in your prospect packet. Include online links to your media coverage. Let them see your credibility and pass you along to others.
Your community involvement directly affects your brand
Being an active member of the community establishes name recognition and positive awareness. Often, young agents will join community groups in the hope of getting more business and the results are disappointing. When your intentions are to be an active, positive and contributing member of the community because you want to, the outcomes are almost always better. It’s almost like magic, but when you give back and develop a positive image as a good member of the community, business comes your way.