Carpenter Group has worked with leading brands in the financial and professional services industries for more than 30 years. This is definitely the most dynamic period of brand evolution and change we’ve ever experienced.
Today, new brands quickly achieve dominance (mostly by offering services online) while former industry leaders fade into oblivion (often old-school, traditional financial firms that have not evolved).
This got us thinking: What does it really take for brands to become — or stay — relevant today?
More than ever, it's a struggle for businesses to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, move ahead of the competition and hold on to market position. Maintaining a brand right now is practically Darwinian: Those that evolve most rapidly to changing market conditions are most likely to survive and succeed.
There are two paths to making it in today’s world:
- Evolve into a company that has a unique understanding of its clients and the marketplace — and is nimble at adapting to changing circumstances. Example: Insurance companies that cut costs to make their policies more accessible to a broader consumer base and move their service functions online to provide easier customer access and more convenient service.
- Become the business that develops something new that people may not know they need. In other words, transform your firm into a disruptor. Example: Fintech companies that create virtual currencies and record-keeping systems that make it simpler to transact business globally in more secure ways.
Making a brand relevant
If your company evolves, it will likely need to completely rethink its branding. It must figure out how to present itself in bold, new ways.
Here are some factors you should take into account when updating your brand:
- Focus on customer needs. With all the companies offering financial and professional service solutions today, everything your company does must be focused on meeting the needs of your client base. Anything that doesn't is a waste of time and money — and could drive them directly to your competitors.
One way to do this is to deliver products and services clients are asking for. A more transformative opportunity is to come up with solutions they may not know they need but will in the future.
The second option requires a special knowledge of your client base — understanding them so well that you can imagine what they will want next. Being a transformative force in people’s lives is a great way to jump ahead of the competition and carve a unique niche for your brand.
- Deliver a better customer experience. Every touchpoint your clients have with your brand must provide genuine value and meaning. Anything ancillary, inconvenient or wasteful simply won't be tolerated. Clients work with companies that make doing business with them easy and enjoyable.
- Being different is better. Companies in transition often lose focus and forget what makes them unique. A muddled brand message is the kiss of death for most businesses. Stay focused on what makes your company special. If you're not sure, it's time to go back to the drawing board and redefine your company’s value proposition.
- Be open to taking chances. Being brave and open to change is critical today. Look to the retail sector to see why this is important. Old-fashioned department stores and other traditional retailers are falling out of favor and closing their doors. Big, bold innovators like Amazon have taken their place. The same is likely to happen in the financial and professional services industries. It's worth staking a claim and telling the world what your company does that is truly relevant.
- Be honest and decisive. Undistinguished brands aren't relevant. If you evolve your brand to stay current, be bold, clear and decisive. Any change that doesn't seem purposeful and authentic to your customers will fall flat. People today will move on if they sense a lack of commitment or falseness in a brand’s positioning or messaging. This is particularly important with financial and professional services businesses, where people trust firms with their money, health, safety and other critical parts of their lives.
Need advice on how you can make your brand relevant in today’s changing world? For decades, Carpenter Group has helped some of the best known brands in the financial and professional services industries stay current. Check out our perspective on branding. Then contact us so we can discuss how we can update your brand for today’s brave new world.