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Brand aid – Kim North

With all the activity surrounding mortgage and general ins-urance regulation, depolarisation and other regulatory changes due to hit our desks, those involved in marketing need to keep their eye on a creeping influence upon their brand – the regulator.

The FSA is focusing on the detail of brand usage in more depth than ever before, particularly in the disclosure arena. An area to be aware of is the usage rules surrounding both the FSA logo and key facts logo which are becoming more dominant on below-the-line literature and its electronic equivalent.

Millions have been spent building some of the best-known brands in the UK but the regulator’s new rules res-trict brand usage in key facts documents while simultaneously raising the FSA brand.

The FSA is prescriptive about the layout of the initial disclosure documents. The “key facts about our services” document must include the key facts logo in a prescribed layout and weighting in a durable medium within the firm’s own brand guidelines and house style. Additionally the “key facts about the cost of our services” or menu must follow the FSA template determining text, format and type size.

These add to – not replace – the documentation that a client gets at the point of sale. Clients will get at least 10 separate information items in many cases, including:1: Key facts about our services.2: The menu.3: A business card.4: Terms of business and/or customer agreement.5: Marketing material from the advisory firm.6: Copy of the factfind, espe-cially if electronically produced.7: Key facts product document.8: A simplified prospectus for funds.9: An illustration for any product(s) recommended.10: A suitability letter.11: Corporate information on any recommended provider.

A discerning consumer who gets an initial or “quick” product key facts document will be given information that they will already know from their own research. They will have to refer to another set of documents about the provider’s product and the fund choices.

When people with time to shop around compare products from different providers, they will find very little difference in cost. The financial strength of the provider and their levels of service and delivery will be the deciding factors.

Consumers tell us that when many different literature pieces are provided, it is unclear which document is the most important and should be read first.

Consumers want a key facts document which is des-igned well but should not look like an official document as they are put off. Key facts should be written in a language (and terminology) which is understandable and should look attractive.

This is not a topic for dinner parties but I have written more than 780 key features documents and I believe it is not difficult to provide the consumer with what they want to see in product terms. Let us hope that this is what we are moving towards.

Kim North is founder of Technology & Technical

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