Branding is the trickiest element in most marketing strategies because we often get stuck in the “be catchy and creative” mindset as opposed to “strategic and authentic”.

It’s typically the wrong way to get started and move through a branding process, but it’s what we often think we need to do.

Jay Baer said it best:

“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.”

In today’s world, having an authentic brand is crucial for financial advisors who want to attract clients and stand out from the competition. But how exactly can you build a genuine brand that accurately reflects who you are?

Let’s take a few minutes and walk through the five essential steps.

First, you need to define yourself and what makes you unique. Take some time for self-reflection. What are your core values and passions? What is your origin story and what drives you to do this work? Get clear on the personality traits, expertise and experiences that set you apart from other advisors. Articulate what your “superpower” is to connect with clients. This self-understanding is the foundation for communicating your differentiators.

Next, define your ideal client by getting more targeted than just demographics. Yes, specifics like age range, income level, and geographic location are helpful. But you need to go deeper to understand psychographics—the values, pain points, and goals of those you best serve. Who do you most enjoy working with? Who finds the most value in what you offer? Get a crystal clear view of your ideal client.

With this insight, you can then prioritize what’s important in your mission statement and statement of intention. Your mission statement should convey your purpose and what problems you solve. Your statement of intention describes how you actually improve your clients’ lives. Both statements should align closely with the brand identity you want to project.

The next step is choosing meaningful imagery, color schemes, and other visual assets. Select photographs, illustrations, icons, and graphics that represent your personality and values. Decide on a color palette that evokes the right emotions you want associated with your brand. Tie all these visual components together into a cohesive, on-brand scheme.

Finally, you must live your brand rather than simply dictating it. Your actions, messaging, client experience, and business operations should fully reflect the brand identity you put forth. Be sure to continuously re-evaluate as your brand evolves over time. Stay true to who you are.

By taking these five steps – self-defining, understanding your ideal client, aligning your mission and intentions, curating on-brand visuals, and truly living your brand – financial advisors can develop an authenticity that attracts the right clients and creates success. The effort is well worth it. An authentic brand is a major competitive advantage, without a doubt.