Why RIA Firms Should Avoid Me-Too Branding

Developing a brand is one of the most important steps to ensure your RIA firm’s success. Still, many investment advisors fail to allocate the time and resources necessary to develop an identity that accurately reflects their firm. 

Instead of embracing the brand-building process as an opportunity to position the firm’s uniqueness and gain a competitive advantage, some advisors take shortcuts by adopting a “me-too” strategy. 

This approach is often attractive to firms looking for a quick and easy way to establish their brand. But unfortunately, this shortcut often leads to a lack of differentiation and a weaker brand image in the long term. 

In this article, we take a closer look at why your RIA Firm should avoid swimming in this sea of sameness and provide a few tips on how you can set your firm apart from your competition.

What is a Me-Too Brand Strategy?

A “Me-too” brand strategy is where a financial firm tries to mimic or copy a successful competitor’s branding elements, messaging, and positioning. This strategy aims to capitalize on the market leader’s recognition and reputation without offering anything different or unique. 

This approach to branding often lacks creativity, innovation, and vision. It can also significantly limit an RIA firm’s potential for growth and success.

In extreme cases, me-too branding also risks infringing on the competitor’s intellectual property rights, leading to legal consequences and damaging the brand’s reputation.

Moving Beyond Me-Too Branding 

Savvy advisors know that successful financial brands are built on two key components; relevance and relationships. To support this point, Beth Comstock, former vice chair of General Electric once said, “Whether B2B or B2C, I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We are all emotional beings looking for relevance, context, and connection.”

So, if you want your RIA Firm to stand out, you need it to stand for something. Creating a relevant brand allows you to differentiate yourself and out-position your competitors. It also allows you to connect with clients and potential clients on a deeper level, which is critical when many financial advisors appear to look, talk, and “feel” the same.

Your brand is more than a logo and a website. It’s how you interact with your clients in a way that demonstrates that you understand their challenges, align with their values, and recognize their evolving needs. A well-designed brand serves as a bridge that transforms the “Me” into “We.”

Establishing a relevant brand may take additional thought and time, but when done correctly, it will allow your firm to attract the right clients and grow your business more quickly than if you took the me-too approach.

How Can Investment Advisors Use Branding to Differentiate Themselves?

At first glance, all RIA Firms offer comparable services and fee structures. Many investment advisors may even have similar work backgrounds and experience. Despite these similarities, there are plenty of opportunities to differentiate your firm. You just need to know where to look and get creative. 

To help you get started, we’ve outlined a few areas below that you can focus on to help differentiate your brand. 

Do Your Homework.

Developing a unique brand has much to do with knowing who you are and who you are not. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, once said, “If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction.”

Early in the brand development process, you should perform a S.W.O.T. analysis to pinpoint your firm’s strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities, and threats. Conducting thorough research will help uncover critical facts about your firm that can help position your RIA.

While examining the investment advisor landscape, you should also prepare a list of competing firms and note their market position. The key here is not to copy your competition but to uncover opportunities.

Know your Audience.

As you define your brand strategy, consider the people who will most likely be interested in and benefit from your services. A solid brand strategy can connect the dots between why you started your firm, what it offers, and whom it helps. 

Knowing whom you want to connect with lets you sharpen your messaging and make better marketing decisions about where and how to promote your firm. It also enables you to understand the unique challenges your potential clients face now and well into the future. 

Plenty of advisors say their clients are “high net-worth individuals.” While this may be true, it doesn’t do a good job of accurately depicting a solid target audience or ideal customer profile (ICP). 

We will delve deeper into what it takes to develop a target audience another time, but to avoid becoming a “me-too” brand, you should invest the time to define both your target market and your target audience.

Define Your Look & Feel.

Designing your logo, choosing a color palette and imagery, and drafting brand messages are critical to making a first impression and differentiating your RIA firm. The physical elements of your brand, including voice and tone, should reinforce your RIA firm’s intangibles.

Famed art director and designer Paul Rand, who created corporate identities for companies such as Morningstar, Enron, and IBM, supports this thought when he said, “A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like.”

Ultimately, the look and feel of your brand should be the physical manifestation of your firm’s intangibles. Design is an area where many advisors get tripped up, so if you need help, please let us know.

Draft a Compelling Brand Story.

In the financial planning and investment management industry, where firms tend to offer much the same, storytelling can catapult you out of a sea of sameness and help humanize your business. 

A compelling brand story uses a narrative that encompasses both facts and feelings. The key to shaping an excellent brand story for your firm is to find the nuggets of information that make your history relevant and memorable.

Like any great story, your brand story should include three components: a situation, a conflict, and a resolution. So, when drafting your brand story, consider questions like:

  • Who started the firm, and why?
  • What was their experience (conflict?) before creating Firm XYZ?
  • What is the mission of your firm?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?
  • What does your firm value?

Remember that the why is always more important than the how when crafting your brand story. 

Make a Promise, and Keep it. 

The Ultimate Driving Machine. 

Think Different. 

Save money. Live Better.

The brand name or logo doesn’t need to appear, but you probably recognize these companies by their promise. This promise is a pact made by the brand to the client/consumer that must be met time and time again.

For a brand promise to ring true, it must be simple, unique, memorable, inspiring, and, most importantly, credible. It starts with knowing who you are, what you do, and for whom. An RIA firm that can identify and embody its brand promise will undoubtedly have an easier time differentiating itself.

Find Your Own Hill to Stand On

By taking the time to find the golden threads that differentiate your RIA firm, you’ll be able to rise above the sea of sameness and find your own hill to stand on. Like any investment, there are some risks involved, but 

By doing so, your firm will find less competition than you initially thought and uncover better ways to market your services.

Go to Top