The complete guide to brand strategy for financial services

In the highly competitive arena of financial services, a solid brand strategy is the cornerstone of success. But branding strategy isn’t about logos and color palettes; it’s about carving a unique identity that stands out in the marketplace, fosters trust with investors, and attracts customers.

This guide will help you understand key brand positioning steps, offering actionable insights and examples for crafting a vision that resonates with customers and grows the bottom line. 

Whether you’re looking to overhaul your current strategy or build a new financial brand from the ground up, this is your best-practices roadmap to creating a compelling brand narrative. 

In this post, we’ll show you the ins and outs of branding strategy for financial brands, including:

  • The Importance of Brand Strategy for Financial Services
  • How to Develop a Financial Services Brand Strategy
  • 3 Great Examples of Finance Branding Strategies

The Importance of Brand Strategy for Financial Services

Research shows 63% of consumers gravitate towards brands that reflect their beliefs and values. This may be even more valid in the banking and financial sector, where trust is the currency of customer relationships.

Further research indicates companies viewed as having a stronger brand identity outperform competitors by 25%.

The demand for greater corporate responsibility in the public consciousness has also prompted consumers to do more investigation into where financial institutions stand on environmental, social responsibility, and governance (ESG). 

Crafting a brand strategy is not only about market differentiation but includes weaving your firm’s values and vision into the customer experience and helping them to identify their values within your company through authentic, demonstrable business practices.

How to Develop a Financial Services Brand Strategy

Developing a brand strategy for financial services requires a structured approach that captures the essence of your brand and conveys it effectively to your target audience. 

As difficult as it may sound, holding a round-table workshop or offering an information gathering mechanism for key executives and stakeholders across your organization to give their different perspectives, is absolutely key to sussing out the subtle “reasons why” that will end up informing everything you do, from your marketing approach to your brand guide to your tag lines. 

Here’s how this process can lay the foundation for a strategy that will steer any financial brand towards greater success.

1. Define Your Brand’s Goals

The best place to begin is by crystallizing your brand’s mission and objectives.

A clear mission statement provides a compass for all brand activities, ensuring every initiative contributes to a unified purpose and message, and a cohesive brand voice.

Case study: After a facilitated 360 brainstorming session with leadership, ‘Aspire Finance’ clarifies it aims to empower young professionals with financial literacy, shaping its strategy around education and accessibility.

2. Identify Your Target Audience And What They Really Want

You can spend multi-millions on advertising trying to convince people to buy something they don’t want and it will never work.

A well-defined target audience ensures personalized and impactful communication, and helps you tap into desires that already exist in the marketplace to ensure your advertising has the most impact and the highest ROI. 

Conduct thorough research to grasp the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your audience. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and market analysis to gather data on potential clients. 

Case study: ‘Aspire Finance’ used social media analytics to understand the financial interests of young professionals. The discovered their clients prefer mobile-first solutions, helping guide the brand towards a digital-centric approach.

3. Stake Out a Unique Position

Differentiation is key in a crowded marketplace like financial services. Pinpointing what sets your brand apart is the fuel for more effective and engaging marketing.

Even if your brand offers a similar solution to the marketplace, you might have a way of delivering the product or service, or be able to build upon a brand story that sets you apart.

Case study: After performing competitor analysis to identify gaps ‘Aspire Finance’ can fill, they realized specializing in user-friendly tools for first-time investors could help set them apart from more traditional firms. This led to the offering of a unique app that gamifies investing for beginners.

4. Develop Your Core Identity

From your unique position, you can craft a strong identity, voice, and message. A cohesive identity helps you resonate with customers and builds brand recognition over time.

Case study: ‘Aspire Finance’ adopted a conversational tone, demystifying finance for novices and aligning its messaging with the goal of making finance approachable. Both design and UX was kept simple to put give a ‘visual proof’ of this approachability.

5. Put Your Strategy Into Action

With your strategy defined, it’s time to bring it to life. Build a brand kit, ensure consistency across all touchpoints, and roll out your brand with a clear plan. 

Case study: ‘Aspire Finance’ developed a launch plan detailing the rollout phases, starting with an internal campaign to align employees with the new strategy, followed by their public launch.

6. Measure and adjust

While measurement and course-correction can really only take place after you execute, the above steps will give you a head start on your approach because it will be based on an accurate target market as well as knowledge of your ideal customers’ habits and desires. Customer behavior and feedback will then fill in the rest of the story. 

For more insights, consider the ideas and best practices outlined in Vested’s blog post on financial services branding, which can provide further inspiration for your financial services branding journey.

3 Great Examples of Finance Branding Strategies

In the dynamic world of finance, standout branding strategies can define (or redefine) a company’s trajectory and defend its market position for many years. This is why brand strategy exercises are so worthwhile.

Here, we spotlight three successful financial brands that have made bold strategic decisions that set them apart and made them all household names.

Chase Bank

Branding materials for Chase Bank

Chase reimagined its brand strategy by emphasizing technology and inclusivity. The initiatives aimed at appealing to a younger, more diverse clientele. 

Investing heavily in digital banking and positioning themselves as innovators in financial technology, the strategy highlighted their commitment to providing accessible financial services, which resonated with a broad audience and solidified their standing as a forward-thinking leader transcending their image as an institutional incumbent.

Read more about Chase’s strategy to dominate retail banking.


Branding materials for PayPal

PayPal’s strategic pivot to brand itself as not just a payment processor but a comprehensive financial solution is a textbook example of successful branding.

They expanded their services to include credit, international money transfers, and even savings accounts, which diversified their appeal. Their brand strategy successfully communicates a message of empowering users with simple, secure, and versatile financial tools, appealing to tech-savvy consumers globally.

Read more about PayPal’s savings rebrand. Details about its image refresh can be found here.


Branding materials for Robinhood
Finance Studio's client work for Robinhood illustrates the brand's commitment to modern, clean, and content-centric design

Robinhood burst on the scene with a mission to democratize finance for everyone. Their branding strategy was built around the idea of making stock trading accessible and free from traditional commission fees. 

They tapped into a previously underserved market of young investors, leveraging a brand narrative of disruption and empowerment. This strategic positioning helped them grow rapidly and disrupt the financial services industry.

Read more about Robinhood’s top secret design story.

Elevating Your Brand Strategy

The examples above help illustrate how these brands made strategic decisions to clarify their audience or identity to further differentiate and elevate the brand above the competition.

Crafting a compelling brand strategy is no small feat. But the investment of time and energy will pay massive dividends in brand loyalty, market credibility, and business longevity. 

If the idea of developing a brand strategy seems daunting, remember you don’t have to go at it alone. Our team of financial specialists is ready to help you build a brand strategy that resonates with your clients and distinguishes you in the marketplace.

“We have tried to do a 360 session internally, but the outside perspective has been incredibly valuable.”

We know how busy executives and leadership teams can be.

That’s why developed our 360 workshops. 

360 workshops are streamlined, guided modular discussions that help develop robust, business-driven marketing and communications plans, and messaging.

Potential exercises include:

  • Business, sales and marketing goals mapping
  • Sales obstacles and ideas
  • Current vs desired perception
  • Mission, vision, values
  • Target audiences
  • Persona mapping
  • Competitive differentiators
  • Brand personality
  • Golden circle exercise
  • Creative campaign brainstorm

Book a 360 Workshop discovery call today

Find out if Finance Studio services are a fit for your financial brand with a quick and easy, no obligation discovery call.