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Winning the Corporate Branding Game

A challenge that many wealth managers grapple with is how rigorously the firm’s brand should be enforced and applied versus allowing teams’ independence and flexibility to “express” their individuality.

This issue arises for those with multiple locations and/or teams, especially when there has been an acquisition or lift out. Wealth management is largely a people business and deciding who to work with depends as much on personal fit as on solutions and services. And advisors can make compelling cases for maintaining their own independent brand.

However, a strong corporate brand has many advantages:

Creates and drives enterprise value
A firm that operates and presents itself as a unified advisory firm has far greater value than a firm that is a group of independent teams using a platform to conduct business.

Is more profitable
The cost of maintaining multiple brands is expensive and time-consuming, requiring more resources than a single brand model.

Builds a collaborative culture
A common brand helps to unify organizations and encourage cross-team efforts.

Creates a more consistent client experience
By developing an overarching brand and value proposition, with a common solution and service set, the client experience will be consistent, regardless of entry point or advisor.

There are ways, though, to build buy-in to a consistent brand and provide opportunities for personalization. Soliciting input from stakeholders during the brand development process helps individuals feel they had a say in the brand. Showing progress along the way also builds a sense of participation. Within your brand, allow certain pieces to be personalized by advisors, such as emails and quarterly letters. If an advisor has a certain area of specialization, create a piece specifically focused on that specialty and the solutions offered. This demonstrates support of an advisor’s unique knowledge set, while also institutionalizing that knowledge for use by others. With careful planning and communication, you can balance the need for a strong overall brand with an advisor’s preference for brand independence.