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Brand new thinking

Do catchy slogans stick in your head? Do you prefer to pick product

providers with strong branding? Would you rather fly the airline with the

slickest slogan?

Strong branding can be eye- catching and marketing analysts say it

encourages consumer loyalty. Should IFA firms develop a strong corporate

identity and adopt a catchphrase to increase their client base?

Chase de Vere Investments has recently rebranded, claiming to be the first

IFA to “brand up” with a new corporate identity and a strapline: You can

count on us.

Investment director Graham Hooper says: “IFAs have never really branded up

in this way but it is a good way of saying what we really stand for. It is

effective within the company as well as outside.”

IFA Promotion managing director Ann-Marie Martyn says: “It can be a good

idea for IFAs to brand and have a strong corporate identity but it is not

just about having a snappy slogan, it is also about delivering the service

that the slogan promises.”

While some IFAs say branding is essential in the current climate of

regulation and polarisation, others say creating logos and catchphrases can

be a waste of money if IFAs do not already have a solid image.

Marketing analysts warn that IFAs thinking of developing their brands must

be prepared to put up the cash to reap the rewards.

Kunde & Co managing partner BJ Cunningham says: “I would caution IFAs on

the cash aspect when it comes to branding. You have to be sure it is the

right move for your firm as branding does not come cheaply.”

Berry Birch & Noble marketing executive Elaine Harvey says: “More than

ever, IFAs need to look at promoting themselves and using brand names and

slogans on literature can be a good way to achieve this. We include the

phrase &#39Berry Birch & Noble looking after your interests&#39 in everything we

send out.”

Hargreaves Lansdown product development manager Ben Lundie says: “We

always say &#39The best information. The best service. The best prices&#39 and

include this on virtually all our literature, and our clients recognise

this.”

But Fiona Price & Partners communications director Donna Bradshaw says

slogans such as these are not remembered by clients and can compromise a

firm&#39s serious image.

She says: “A serious business like an IFA firm cannot have light-hearted

slogans and catchy phrases sound cheesy to me. Does anyone really remember

companies&#39 slogans or mission statements anyway?”

Holden Meehan director of operations and development Ian Morrell says,

light-hearted or not, it is quite difficult to come up with an effective

slogan to sum up an IFA firm.

He says: “It is hard to find a simple strapline which supports an IFA

brand. In principle, it is a good idea to have corporate branding but it is

superficial if you cannot live up to your slogan.”

How successful can corp- orate branding be for IFA firms? Hooper says

judging the success of corporate branding is difficult as IFAs have to look

for long-term rewards rather than short-term benefits.

He says: “If IFAs look for the short-term benefits they will be

disappointed but if they are considering corporate branding they should

look at the long-term benefits. The response to branding can be judged by

the cost per enquiry of advertising responses and, anecdotally, by what

clients say about the brand over the long term.”

Cunningham says: “Branding can build loyalty over time and this is

important for IFA clients. A brand can be a useful tool to increase the

lifetime value of a client.”

Bradshaw says: “Fiona Price & Partners has stood the test of time as a

brand. Even when I lived in Edinburgh years ago, I had heard of the firm

despite it being based in London. The name is synonymous with what we are

about. Fiona promoted herself in the company name but if she left the

company it would be ludicrous to lose the name as it is our brand.”

Despite the importance of name recognition, IFAs and branding analysts

point out that there is a difference between what constitutes image and

what is branding.

Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “All organisations

seem to be searching for the magic brand. I wonder if it is because people

mix up image with brand. They think a name, logo, strapline or colour image

is a brand. But in fact they are only a name, logo, strapline or colour

image. Branding is much more than that.”

Cunningham says: “The bottom line is that a brand is a promise. It is only

valid if it is delivered by a solid company and only useful if it drives

value and profit. Paying a design house £50,000 to produce a logo does not

make a brand.”

Branding can also boost loyalty within the company, according to Cunningham.

He says: “The promise of a brand needs to come from within the firm, not

simply outside it. Branding is a case of preaching what you practise.”

Hooper says: “A vital part of the rebranding process was done internally.

All staff need to understand we rely on each other and the company&#39s

promise applies inside the company as well as outside.”

Morrell says creating a new logo when Holden Meehan recently became a

limited company made a difference inside the company. He says: “There was a

real buzz of excitement within the firm when we launched our logo. A

distinctive company image is important internally as well as externally.”

However, Cunningham says IFAs should save their cash unless they have

solid reasons and the financial resources to make branding work. He says:

“IFA need to make their company unique from their competitors. The promise

of its branding must be pertinent, relevant and deliverable.”

Cunningham says: “Think of a brand as a goodwill bank account. The bigger

the account, the more goodwill you will generate. If you are not prepared

to financially invest in branding and keep up the promise you are offering,

you will be throwing your money away.”

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