Brand equity and value – developing your financial services brand online
If you’re in the business of Financial Services then you’ll know just how valuable a strong brand can be.
To your customers, a strong brand means a well-known business and a well-known business means it’s a first choice for many. Sales psychology, tested over many decades, shows that when it comes to choosing a product of service we follow other people’s choices. (Slightly embarrassing for us I know, but the figures all stack up.)
As consumers, we believe that a product with a well-known name is better than products with less well-known names. We subconsciously believe that they’re well known because they’re popular with others. But in fact a big part of being well known depends on the strength of your branding.
You’re in financial services. It’s all about money. And when it’s about money, people’s trust is one of biggest factors in a customer’s decision. You build trust when you build confidence, and one way to build confidence is through consistency.
So what do we mean by consistency?
Many customers’ choice of financial services provider will be made, starting with their initial online user experience. So a financial services website must be consistent in communication and experience, across many applications. That means that any financial services website must be created using responsive web design. This ensures consistency of user experience whatever device your customer is using.
It’s also worth remembering that a successful financial services brand doesn’t differ between online and offline communications. Any differences may seem superficial, but they chip away at the overall impression, and that can have a damaging impact on your financial services brand.
A value proposition is a concise explanation of why a customer should choose you for financial services. It’s the very essence of your financial services brand identity and should convince a customer that your offer will give them greater benefits than they’d receive from competitor organisations.
Your value proposition needs to be clear, unambiguous and be the first thing that a visitor to your website sees.
When someone seeking financial services visits your site, you have a very brief window of time to convince them to stay. During this short window they will ask themselves a variety of questions (often subconsciously) such as:
- Is this financial services business trustworthy?
- How reliable is it?
- Will their people be helpful and efficient
- Do they operate in a professional fashion?
- Do they get good results for customers?
You need a clear and concise value proposition to convince the user that your financial services business ticks all the boxes and more. You need to define what you are about, looking at aspects such as:
- Value for money
- You’re authoritative, established and expert
- You’re friendly and approachable.
Tone of voice
The language you use on your website needs to reinforce your brand’s character and personality. It should be as unique as your brand. So, choose a tone of voice that suits your brand’s character and audience.
This is something that deserves particular thought when it comes to branding for the banking and financial services sector. Tone of voice for these businesses used to feel a little impersonal and un-approachable. Things have changed, and nowadays people are reassured and encouraged by a personal touch. It pays to show your audience that you’re friendly and approachable. Users like to feel like they are dealing with real people rather than just a corporation.
Don’t overdo it though – when you’re dealing with people’s money they need to know you’re serious. Don’t let friendliness tip into flippancy and teen-talk.
SEO and social media
You cannot develop a winning financial services brand online without putting resources into your SEO and social media strategy.
Search engines need to be able to recognise your financial service brand. To do this, you will need to have a wide, well thought out and strategic approach to social media. A good social media strategy will drive traffic to your website while also raising brand awareness on multiple fronts.
If your online brand is going to be successful, then your online presence must be much more than just a website. A clever social media strategy, alongside use of online directories such as Yell, will work together to establish and reinforce your brand. This in turn will convince and inform your audience.
The need to for financial services to develop their brands online is not optional if they want their businesses to grow. Your online presence can have a dramatic impact on winning and maintaining customers. The good news is, you’re in the driving seat when it comes to defining that presence.