I recently spoke alongside an esteemed panel with the FS Forum called ‘Sweet Harmony: Ensuring Brand Consistency Across Touchpoints’. Whilst there were multiple lenses to view the topic, I focused on brand equity as the crucial partner alongside brand consistency in achieving brand marketing goals.
Brand equity is the value added to a product or service as a direct result of the recognition and reputation of the brand. It is a critical asset for any business, but it is especially important for financial services companies, which operate in a complex and competitive environment.
Brand Equity in Financial Services
Financial services companies face a number of unique challenges in building brand equity. One challenge is that their products and services are often complex and difficult to understand. This can make it difficult for customers to compare different brands and make informed decisions.
Another challenge is that financial services companies often have long sales cycles. This means that it can take a long time for customers to develop a strong understanding of a brand and build trust with the company.
Despite these challenges, there are a number of successful financial services brands with strong brand equity. One example includes Visa.
Visa clearly understands the importance of its brand. They recognise that their success depends in large part on their ability to maintain the value of their brand. That’s why they include their brand as one of their five foundations (along with their networks, technology platforms, security and talent).
Visa has been investing heavily in strengthening its brand, spending more than $1.3 billion in marketing last year. This is an 18% increase over the previous year. Visa uses a variety of marketing tactics to promote its brand, including advertising, promotions and sponsorships with organisations such as FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, and the NFL.
I believe that Visa’s investment in its brand is paying off. These efforts have no doubt contributed to the company’s leadership position in the BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands ranking.
The Importance of Brand Consistency
Brand consistency is essential for building and maintaining brand equity. When a company’s brand is consistent across all touchpoints, it helps to create a strong and positive association in the minds of customers.
Financial services companies can achieve brand consistency by developing and implementing a brand style guide. Whilst developing the brand guide, implementation is trickier. According to the ‘2021 state of brand consistency’ by Lucidpress, 85% of organisations said they had brand guidelines, but only 31% admitted keeping them consistently enforced. There are three key solutions to this problem:
Change the language of brand within the organisation.
As an agency with an employer branding arm, LEAP Create, we have been running more projects to articulate the value of brand within financial services institutions. Whilst marketing can articulate clear value with data, brand value is less quantifiable and therefore deprioritised. We help marketers create internal brand explanation videos or help develop employer branding separate from the wider branding which speaks more to internal stakeholders than customers.
Leverage brand custodians and technology.
As a creative production studio, we ensure we have dedicated teams that work on the same brands, ensuring we become an extension and brand custodian of the brand. Our proprietary technology, LOOP, also helps achieve brand consistency by centralising creative assets and using digital asset management software. In doing this we can ensure that a brand is represented consistently across all channels.
Build campaign brand books.
Your brand guide still has its place, however campaign brand books can capture nuance in audiences, messaging and design. This is something we create for all our clients and centralise in an asset bank. It can often be easier to enforce because of its relevance for each campaign.
Brand equity is a critical asset for B2B financial services companies. Brand equity is important in signalling to customers that a company is reliable, trustworthy and competent.
We understand the unique challenges that face the financial services industry.