Brand Strength for Fund Managers and Does It Matter?
Your brand can be a valuable commodity as a fund manager.
And as a marketer it is your job to protect your brand and ensure that what people see in it is what you deliver. All marketing involves making a promise and keeping it, and this is especially true with a brand.
The big brands in the fund sector – or indeed any sector – understand this and realise that a brand is more than just a name and a logo. It’s actually the experience that people have when they engage with you. So, that experience should be both good and consistent. The firms at the top of the tree deliver on this, so their brand is seen as trusted and reliable and it pulls in investors.
The power of branding is evident across the business world, as some of the globe’s biggest firms are built on it. Take the success of Apple, for example, which is almost entirely based on the trust the buying public has in its brand. The quality and consistency of the product is vital to this, but clever marketing builds on it to boost the brand. Apple is currently expanding outside its core market – stretching its arms into streaming and beyond – and its brand is helping it do that, as people both recognise and trust it.
Or, think about Google. A couple of decades or so ago few people knew what Google was, but it’s now so big that it’s part of the lexicon – you don’t tell someone to look something up any more, you just tell them to ‘Google it’. Because the Google brand is known for doing that one job so consistently well, it’s transformed into a global powerhouse with a reach so great that you can buy many things without even leaving its platform.
The reason these companies are able to move so quickly and decisively into new markets is through the quality and consistency of their brands.
You can capitalise on the strength of your own brand – and the trust it generates – to grow your firm. But quality and consistency are vital across all touchpoints in the investor journey if you want to maintain strong and long-lasting client relationships.
This spans the whole business. Whether a client is reading an email, looking at a tweet, or calling customer service – the consistency of experience should be the same.
Building a brand
But what do you do if you’re a smaller or younger fund with a less visible and powerful brand? You may worry about how to make your brand stronger and more recognisable.
If that’s the case then you can look at the stronger brands in the sector and derive insight from that.
Don’t copy, of course – but certainly be inspired.
Also, think about the purpose of your firm. Perhaps it’s sustainability, for example. If so, then this needs to run through your marketing like a stick of rock – from customer-facing copy right down to job adverts. Your purpose should be everywhere so that nobody is left in any doubt about what you stand for. Again, consistency is key here.
And what you say in your brand narrative must be evident in what you provide in practical terms. If you talk about a commitment to sustainability than this must be reflected in the products you offer. If there is a mismatch between message and actions then you leave yourself open to criticism and a loss of investor confidence and trust.
And this extends to people also. Every single person in your company, from the CEO to the people serving drinks in the canteen – should be across what you’re doing and why. Or, even better, directly involved in your efforts, so they can speak with passion and enthusiasm about it. This will shine through to potential investors.
And, actually, being small can be a big benefit when it comes to branding and is where smaller firms can develop an edge. If you have a small team then it’s easier to come together and decide on a central purpose for your company and theme for your marketing. In a bigger firm, with more people and stakeholders, it can be harder to maintain a consistency of tone and message.
The pitfalls of rebranding
If you’re reading this and bemoaning the weakness of your own brand, then one word may spring into your mind – rebranding.
This is a process that many firms embark on – normally when a new marketing supremo has joined the fold – but few manage to do well.
But you need to be very careful if you’re considering a rebrand. The first question is – do you actually need to do it? A brand is a powerful thing and a good one can persuade people to invest, to keep investing, to forgive mistakes, to put up with higher fees etc etc.
A brand is usually a strength. And that applies to businesses big and small. Yet it often takes the blame when things are going badly. Phrases like ‘weak branding is responsible’ are flung around in meetings and before you know it everything is being changed.
But brand is rarely the real culprit. If people are losing confidence in you, most likely it’s more mundane problems such as poor customer service, inconsistent communications, or bad performance that are making trouble.
There can definitely be a case for rebranding, particularly if you have a ‘mixed brand’ where consistency of voice and purpose is missing. But you should actually consult your clients before you go down the costly and risky route of a full-blown rebrand and ask if they see a problem with your current brand.
If you do decide to go down the rebranding route, you must ensure that all your stakeholders are behind the plan and understand its purpose. Then you need a consistent rollout that relies on central tenets of your new brand – its purpose and tone.
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