HOLLYWOOD, FLA. - Why is branding so important and how can you build a stronger brand?

Gary Weuve, a national sales manager for CUNA Mutual Group, presented a session on this topic at the Bank Insurance & Securities Association’s annual conference on Tuesday.

Your brand isn’t about a logo or a product, it’s about your reputation, Weuve said. “What is the reputation of your investment program?”

A strong brand connects you to your target prospects emotionally, motivates people and creates client loyalty, he said. It also resides in prospects’ hearts and minds and helps them see you as the only choice, Weuve said.

So how do you build a strong brand? In part it’s about building brand equity and that takes time. Consistent positive interactions with your customers build credibility, authenticity, trust and ultimately, loyalty, Weuve said.

The first step in the brand development process involves envisioning your brand’s story. Make that story as succinct as possible and use it to communicate what the brand is, Weuve said. According to Weuve, your brand is the intersection of three elements: Who are you? What do you do? And why does it matter?

Next is understanding your current brand, Weuve said. That means actually asking people—what is the perception of the advisors and programs?

Then you can begin to develop your brand strategy and an implementation plan. Last but not least (and perhaps most importantly) is living the brand.

“You have to maintain your brand,” Weuve said. “You can’t be one way in the office and completely different on Saturday night when you’re out with friends. You need to live your brand 24/7.” 

While the session was geared toward program managers, in a conversation afterward, Weuve said of all of these ideas apply to the advisors’ personal brand as well.

“They have a brand,” Weuve said. “They’ve got one today and they need to find out what it is and control the message.”

Asking is the best way to find out what your personal brand, Weuve said. “Replace the word brand with reputation,” he said. Find out what’s your reputation with your customers, with the bank staff and with your boss?