All businesses—from iconic, international corporations like Apple, to local mom-and-pop shops—strive to build a brand for themselves. They want to stand out from their competitors; they want to be unique. But what makes a meaningful brand? We sought to help RIAs answer this question for themselves during our annual Focus on the Future meeting last month.
Brands are meaningful when they inspire. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, best known for his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, as well as his TED talk on the same subject, suggests that the ability to inspire others and succeed begins with the Golden Circle.
There is a natural tendency to start with the What because that’s the easiest to define: “I am a financial advisor.” But people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
With that in mind, Sinek suggests beginning with the Why: What is your purpose? Why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?
During the course of the day, advisors broke into groups to think about what makes a meaningful brand. We asked them to consider how their firm would change if they were acquired by an iconic company like Apple or Disney. Borrowing from the godfather of modern branding, David Aaker, we then asked them to think about the 11 keywords that best describe their firm—and trim that list of 11 personality terms to seven. The idea is that in order to sell to the outside world, you need to first be able to define what is important to you. How you interact with prospects and clients—and which clients you want to attract—should extend from your purpose and values.
In an upcoming blog post, we’ll look at the How—that is, how you fulfill your ‘why.’ You can also watch our 20-minute Genius Session on Building a Meaningful Brand, or read our Trend Advisor paper.