#2: Integrating Your Beliefs and Brand

Have you ever wondered how to create a business name that captures the full scope of your company’s mission? The truth is that there’s so much more to a “brand” than just what you call your company. Building a brand that integrates with your beliefs involves choosing a logo, owning your story, naming your company, and defining how your mission will flow from your core beliefs. Today, I’d love to compare two stories for you – how I named my previous firm, and how we defined our current Credent Wealth Management brand.

When You Struggle to Name Your Company

My former firm was called Oak Point Financial Group. All told, the name wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a solid reason or “why” behind the company name. Many of our clients and colleagues asked us: Why Oak Point?

After all, it didn’t reflect the names of our partners. It didn’t seem to represent our local area, or a commonly known saying. Honestly, it was tough to nail down what the name meant, exactly. Truth be told, we came up with the name because we felt stuck. We weren’t sure what to name our company, and nothing we came up with sounded quite right. One day, we realized that the perimeter of our office building’s property was lined with oak trees. Our office was in the corner of the building. Hence: Oak Point.

I know – it’s not the greatest brand story in the world.

When people asked us why we chose that name, we tried to dress it up. We’d talk about how oak trees are solid and stable, how our firm was here to weather the storms of the market with our clients – the stories went on and on. Now, our firm CX Institutional has had much more thought put into it, as does our retail-facing brand – Credent Wealth Management.

Developing a Brand with Confidence

Years ago, we had a new financial advisor on the team. This individual was, in a word, fantastic. They were providing exceptional client service and developing business. They were just starting to go through a showcase. A showcase is where we meet with an attorney or CPA, or another center of influence. Our goal during the showcase is to present our firm’s capabilities, and how we work with clients.

The advisor was preparing for their showcase, and walking me through their presentation. They said something to the effect of:

I’m not sure how to kick this off. I don’t do much with the brand and stuff. 

It became clear that we, as a company, hadn’t done a great job of sharing our brand name story, or how we developed our mission. So, I shared the mission of our firm, and how it impacts our clients.

When the two firms, Hefty Wealth Partners and Oak Point Financial Group, were coming together, we hired a really cool advertising firm to help us build and develop the identity that we wanted for our new company. We started by identifying our beliefs: What is it that we believed about business, about clients, about the industry, about how we work?

Once we had identified our beliefs, then we could take that information and start to work on names and what names reflected those beliefs. The RIA is called CX Institutional, and CX is simply an abbreviation for Client Experience.

Credent comes from the Latin word which means “to believe.” The fact that our business is based on a number of beliefs gave rise to the name Credent Wealth Management. We had our beliefs nailed down.

Once we had our beliefs and brand name in place, we decided to work on our logo. We knew we wanted commonality between the two brands but still wanted each logo to have meaning. In the end, we settled on a cube shape. The goal was to have our logo look solid and stable. The Credent Wealth Management logo is formed with the C and the X from CX Institutional – highlighting our dedication to the client experience. We also incorporated an upward pointing arrow on the other sides of the cube, showcasing our desire to elevate the client experience in everything we do.

In comparison to Oak Point, Credent Wealth Management has a clear story that our advisors can share with COIs and with clients. It’s a brand I’m proud to hang my hat on.

How to Integrate Your Beliefs In Your Brand

The first step to take is to identify what your beliefs are. If you don’t know where you stand, you’re building your brand on a crumbling foundation. There are several different ways to explore your beliefs and gain clarity:

  1. Ask yourself questions about what you do, and why you do it.
  2. Determine what makes you happy about your work, or what you find most fulfilling.
  3. Identify your actions in your firm – what is consistently getting prioritized?
  4. Who do you work with? Is serving that unique population part of your belief system?
  5. Explore how you want to be different – what sets you apart?
  6. Outline how clients are treated in your firm.

As an example, let’s explore some of the beliefs we hold at CX Institutional. Our first belief is that we believe financial freedom changes lives. In fact, just yesterday, one of our employees came into my office specifically to tell me an example of how financial freedom changes lives. It had to do with a client who had a bunch of medical procedures done early in the year, and she’d met her entire family deductible in January of the year, and she could afford it. Because she had a cash reserve, she was able to get the medical care she needed and pay all this money out of pocket until she hit her co-pays and deductibles.

Our second belief statement is that we believe the American dream is alive and well, and different people think that the American dream means different things. You might agree or disagree with that, and that’s okay. The way I talk about this is I believe that in America, where we’ve got property rights and a system that protects individuals, hard work and prudence can lead to success.

Our third belief statement is that all Americans benefit from setting financial goals, developing a written plan, and working with a partner toward those goals. One of our other belief statements dovetails right into that which says, “We believe in the power of partnership.”

I know that our paraplanners use this phrase all the time when they’re working with clients to get information-sharing agreements so that we can talk to their accountants and attorneys. The paraplanners tell clients, “We believe in the power of partnership, and that’s why we want to have this in place so that we can work with the whole team of professionals on your behalf.”

We believe that all investment strategies work some of the time, and that no investment strategy works all of the time. This is a belief that our financial advisors and wealth partners use in almost every single goal review meeting when they’re talking about clients’ investment strategies and performance.

We also believe that our fiduciary obligation is to our client and not to Wall Street, and this certainly gets lived out in the way that we’ve built our business, and the business model that we adopt.

We believe that all Americans should have access to independent and affordable advice, and that’s part of our client service experience, as well. We’re able to serve people who don’t even have any money on our platform to those who are multimillionaires. Regardless of the amount of money our clients invest with us, we believe they deserve access to affordable advice.

Finally, our last belief statement is that we believe the fear of the future and the greed of consumerism are the roadblocks to financial independence for all Americans. To that end, we point our financial advice at those two emotions, the fear, the future, and the greed of consumerism.

Building Your Beliefs Into Your Ongoing Work

Now that you’ve developed your company beliefs, you’re ready to build them into your brand and your ongoing work. At the end of the day, your brand is a promise. It isn’t what you say, or what’s printed on a brochure. It really is what you do.

Discussing your brand and your firm actions as a team helps you to maintain your vision and keep everyone on track. Although it isn’t just what you say, talking about your beliefs and your brand is critical. One way we do this at CX Institutional is to incorporate our brand beliefs into every team meeting. We open the floor and ask: How is our brand being represented in the work we’re doing right now

I challenge you to ask yourself the same thing.

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