We've got a lot to say on about branding, and marketing, and recently spoke with SunStar's Kathryn Morrison for her take on the topic-you can find that conversation here. Today, we’ll continue by getting a different point-of-view, this time from SunStar Strategic’s Melissa Murphy.

Do they know what you do and how you’re different from the firm down the block?

At SunStar Strategic we work with clients to identify their needs as a firm and to develop an action-plan to revitalize their marketing programs. Some of the biggest issues we see are in branding, particularly in the fund industry, we see established businesses that have not been able to effectively communicate what they stand for. If this sounds familiar to you, try this acid test: write down your brand elevator pitch—the aspects that define your firm—and give it to someone familiar with the industry. Do they know what you do and how you’re different from the firm down the block? If not, you may have a generic brand image and should probably take some time to reevaluate how your firm thinks of itself.

Come to a consensus.

In order to develop a cohesive and successful brand, we recommend that a firm’s leaders commit to the process of evaluating themselves and their work objectively and come to a consensus together. “Generally, several meetings between the right people will get a firm 50% of the way to a cohesive brand,” Murphy says. “For the other 50%, though, you have to go to your clients and prospects and get their input. By asking the people your firm works with on a day-to-day basis for their thoughts on what makes you different from the other guy, you will uncover the gaps between your projected image and what people actually perceive.”

How are you different?

Still not sure if your brand is distinguished? Once you think your brand has been clarified, ask yourself what brand does whatever your brand does. According to Murphy, “Everyone in the fund world says their brand is experienced management and disciplined investment process. Think beyond the obvious and define your firm by a benefit you offer, a client problem you can solve, or anything you do differentlyfrom the other firms in your industry.”

Once your brand is established and you know what differentiates you from the pack, you can begin communicating it to your clients. Communicating a new brand, though, is not without pitfalls. Unless your new image is clearly laid out across all sales and marketing communications, it will get lost in the other verbiage you’re producing about your company. “If your claim to fame is being a bottom-up stock picker, don’t spend half of your annual report talking about macro-economics,” Murphy advises. The more clearly your firm presents its brand, the better chance you have of making that brand stand out from your competitors.

We can help you wade through all the clutter and develop your firm’s brand.

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