When I returned to Mackey Advisors in 2009 we had a beautiful “brand” created by Jon LoDuca and his team at Wisdom Link. Although we had a messaging guide and a logo that were perfect we were not capitalizing on our investment. Our marketing materials contained invaluable information, but we were not using our branding toolkit to make these pieces pop and make people pay attention. That’s where I came in. I have a background in Interior Design and an obsession for aesthetics. I memorized our messaging guide and quickly started sprucing up our website, printed materials, client communications, etc. Branding and messaging is an on-going process, but from my experience if you take the time to create a core message that includes just a few items you can create a brand that SCREAMS your company’s identity, and makes people pay attention.
I am not an expert in creating a brand, but I do believe I am an expert in branding Mackey Advisors. With that being said, here is my branding toolkit for the do-it-yourself marketer.
LOGO — Our logo was already created when I came back to Mackey Advisors. A logo is the most important piece of branding for a business, but the logo must be meaningful to be effective. The Mackey Advisors logo is an abstraction of an advisor and his/her advisee sitting at a table. Our logo was built around the relationships we create and the comprehensive nature of our services.
TAGLINE — This is not your elevator pitch or your mission statement, but it must be an extrapolation of both. Our tagline is “Your Wealth Advocate”. It is simple, understandable, and opens the door to questions.
MISSION STATEMENT — One could argue that no brand can be created without having a solid mission statement. According to Entrepreneur.com, “a mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, and its reason for being”. Our mission statement is, “We are Wealth Advocates who empower confident action in our clients, our community, and ourselves”. It explains that we are in the financial industry, but that we are about more than just money and that we care about more than just ourselves.
CORE VALUES — These can seem simple, but even the Mackey Advisors team has a hard time putting what we intrinsically know about the company into words. This is why we currently have 10. We think this is too many, but it is a starting point. Having a set of core values isn’t just for show. The company must live these values. I find having a core set of values beneficial in so many ways, but the most beneficial, to me, is when contemplating sponsorships, donations, or advertising. Most small businesses are bombarded with requests, and while we always want to help we can’t help everyone.
COLOR PALETTE — An organization’s color palette can be an exceptionally effective way of standing out in a crowded marketplace. Wisdom Link chose two main colors for our brand. Our bold, yet not overpowering yellow and a silky, smooth grey (both colors are now so burned into my brain that they are popping up in my wardrobe, home, and other work outside of Mackey Advisors). Wisdom Link also chose 5 supporting colors to keep our visuals interesting. One thing to remember is that colors go in and out of fashion. All design firms have research on what is trending and/or what will be trending. My advice would be to leave the colors to the professionals, but of course make your opinions known.
FONT — Many small businesses rely on Microsoft Word to choose Times New Roman or Arial as their font. DON’T DO THIS! Why spend all that time and energy on creating a mission, values, logo, etc when you are just going to communicate with a “default” font. We use Century Gothic. It is clean, easily accessible, and fresh. Once you pick your primary font set everything to that font (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Email, and hopefully your website). I would recommend choosing a secondary font just for marketing pieces that may have a lot of text and need some variety. A best practice for this would be to have a sans serif and serif font.
In my non-expert opinion if you have these 6 things in your branding toolkit you can create a meaningful brand and outstanding marketing materials to fill your pipeline to the brim.
I would like to hear from you! What do you love about your brand?