Prominent companies have long understood that a corporate brand is a valuable — albeit, intangible — business asset that must be carefully managed. However, only recently have agencies and sole practitioners begun to recognize the importance of developing a strong brand for their firms.

A brand is the face that your firm projects in the marketplace — its reputation and its badge of distinction. A strong brand can help create a differentiated corporate persona that enables a company to stand apart in an increasingly cluttered and competitive market.

Branding — the ongoing tasks associated with the creation of a strong market image and the effective management of market perceptions — is both an art and a science. Research studies, academic white papers and a robust branding agency industry are continually providing different approaches and new branding techniques to the marketplace. There are, however, some basics that you can follow to get started.

Brand Definition. What perceptions do you want to create and maintain over the long-term? What brand attributes would you like to have associated with your firm? For example: Do you want to position your firm as a generalist or as an annuity specialist? Do you want to appeal to a certain market segment, such as retirees or young families?

Brand Elements. If consistently and continually used, carefully developed visual and verbal “symbols” can reinforce your chosen brand attributes and serve as your marketplace signature. These elements include your firm’s name and the names you develop for the services you offer, such as your insurance review or planning services, as well as your business cards, letterhead, and any materials (other than those supplied by product providers) that you use.

In today’s highly competitive insurance marketplace, branding provides can help your firm stand out in the marketplace. With so much at stake, it is important to manage your brand to leverage your assets and gain the maximum value that branding can provide.

This article is adapted from The Professional’s Guide to Financial Services Marketing: Bite-Sized Insights for Creating Effective Approaches (Wiley Publishing), by Jay Nagdeman. For more information, visit www.SuasionResources.com.

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