All you need to know about branding compliance in financial services

Giorgia Guantario
Content Director
December 22, 2023

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘brand compliance’?

For many people, it might signify logos, custom colors or fonts – the visual identity of a brand. But the truth is, brand compliance is much more than that for financial services firms. It’s about creating a consistent and trustworthy image. It’s about delivering a consistent customer experience and building a relationship of trust with your clients that will last for years to come.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what brand compliance really means and why it’s so important for financial and professional services organisations. We’ll explore how financial firms can strengthen their brand value, including how to choose and use brand compliance software and its role in building stronger relationships with clients.

TL;DR

  • Brand compliance is increasingly important for financial services firms in an ever so competitive market.

  • It can help firms turn clients into loyal ambassadors, improve internal collaboration and ultimately positively impact business growth.

  • A brand compliance automation solution can help firms ensure all teams create on-brand, consistent deliverable that convince clients and better represent a firm’s quality of service.

What is branding compliance?

Brand compliance signifies adherence to approved guidelines to maintain a uniform brand identity across all consumer touchpoints. It encapsulates everything from logo placement and color usage to tone of voice across all communication channels and formats.

Whether for an internal memo or a pitchbook, brand compliance ensures that the message is conveyed in a way that’s consistent with a firm’s values, mission and image.

On the other hand, inconsistent branding can dilute your core message, impact business reputation, and ultimately hinder your bottom line.

The benefits of maintaining branding compliance in financial services

In financial services, prioritizing brand compliance is not just a choice but a strategic imperative with profound benefits on your firm.

For example, a consistent brand identity can enhance client loyalty, repeat business, and growth. Internally, it champions collaboration and consolidates a shared appreciation for brand identity.

Improving client loyalty and repeat business

Brand compliance primarily focuses on fostering a consistent and reliable image of a company – an effort which, in turn, garners higher levels of client trust. This trust breeds loyal clients who become ambassadors by promoting your brand through word of mouth. Brand compliance is therefore pivotal in nurturing stable relationships with your clientele.

Moreover, maintaining a solid corporate identity aids in increasing client retention rates. According to studies from Bain & Company, even a 5% increase in client retention could translate into profit increments of up to 25%. In other words, ensuring each touchpoint aligns with your brand standards improves the chances of repeat business, which in turn bolsters overall growth.

Lastly, a well-established brand identity acts as a beacon for potential new clients. A unified representation of your firm wields persuasive strength in convincing prospects about your services’ authenticity, professionalism and credibility.

Boosting collaboration and brand identity internally

Insisting that different departments work together towards maintaining consistent messaging invariably fosters better teamwork. On being involved collectively in preserving the integrity of the firm’s image, employees develop an understanding of their roles relative to larger firm-wide goals, thus boosting fulfilment in their day-to-day roles.

Additionally, adhering to strict brand guidelines helps instill pride amongst teams about being part of the entity they’re helping shape. This can directly influence employee morale, motivation, and overall satisfaction within your firm.

The costs of non-compliance

Occasionally, decisions or unintentional mistakes are made that lead to the creation of non-compliant deliverables. While these choices may seem insignificant at the moment, they can lead to serious long-term consequences.

Dilution of brand identity

Clients come to recognize a brand by its consistent use of logos, colors, typography, and language. But what happens when those elements become inconsistent?

Brand identity quickly dilutes, developing confusion amongst clients in the form of:

  • Disorientation: clients feel disoriented when faced with unfamiliar or conflicting branding elements. They lose the inherent trust-winning sense of familiarity associated with your brand.
  • Miscommunication: inconsistent usage may alter a logo’s appearance or a slogan’s message, causing confusion among clients about who you really are and what you stand for.
  • Splintering effect: as more off-brand material is produced, it creates a splintering effect. The more variations exist in the market, the less powerful each variant becomes.

Failure to comply with brand standards leads clients to a guessing game – detrimental to any firm that relies on client recognition and trust in decision-making.

Damaged reputation

The perceived value of your brand isn’t determined only by clients but also by partners, investors, employees and other key stakeholders.

Broad stakeholder faith dwindles when they spot inconsistencies with your brand guidelines. Lack of unanimity hints at deeper organizational issues — lack of strategy or standardization perhaps — which sends alarm bells ringing. The adverse effects include:

  • Decline in relationship quality: partners start doubting an organization’s reliability, leading them to reconsider future collaborations or contract renewals.
  • Investor hesitation: Within the realm of financial services, uniformity translates to stability – a quality that holds significant appeal for prospective investment opportunities.
  • Decrease in employee motivation: staff members feel demotivated working for a brand that lacks a true identity due to inconsistencies and confusion.

In an age where reputation can make or break a financial firm, maintaining solid, trusting relationships with stakeholders should be on the agenda. Consistent adherence to brand compliance is critical in upholding your corporate identity and ensuring those relationships remain strong.

Webinar banner showing how DC Advisory reinvented their brand identity via a global rebrand.

How to create compelling brand guidelines for your financial services firm

Creating comprehensive brand guidelines is paramount to sustaining a consistent brand identity. However, understanding how to design these standards effectively, appreciating their role across various collateral, and ensuring they are accessible to all stakeholders is often put on the back burner.

Here are the steps you should take to create effective brand guidelines for your brand:

Defining the elements of brand guidelines

Brand guidelines should be unequivocal about what your corporate identity represents. They should outline specifications on how the elements of your logo, colors, typography, and tone of voice must be applied. This enhances brand consistency while guiding individuals when producing on-brand collateral.

The logo often acts as the face of a company, and hence, any improper usage might distort its perception. Include dimensions for proper logo sizing along with acceptable variations.

Select distinct yet complementary colors that align with your corporate feel and evoke desired emotions among audience members. Provide RGB (used for digital designs) and CMYK (used for print designs) codes for color accuracy.

For typography, identify primary and secondary fonts that reflect your brand persona. Specify font sizes for different headings or text categories.

If you’re looking for a good example of comprehensive brand guidelines, Wise has recently made many of their own resources public.

screenshot of the page wise.design showing graphic elements from the brand Wise
Source: Wise

Deciding your tone of voice helps convey personality through content. It generates an emotional resonance within consumers, making them relate better to the message you’re attempting to deliver.

Including dos and don’ts for various materials

Alongside specifying these components in detail, it’s wise to elaborate ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ specifically addressing various kinds of branding materials:

  • Print media like brochures or flyers must maintain color schemes as per given codes, considering printers’ tendency to alter hues slightly.
  • Client-facing documents such as PowerPoint presentations must respect up-to-date templates and appropriately use elements and colors.
  • Digital mediums demand careful consideration, especially concerning size specifications, since platforms have unique requirements which potentially alter image quality if not adhered to correctly.

Moreover, you should consider the role of accessibility in all of your materials to foster inclusivity, meet legal standards, and positively impact brand reputation by ensuring information is easily accessible to all users.

Educating stakeholders on brand compliance

A crucial component in achieving brand compliance is ensuring that all stakeholders, especially client-facing teams, understand what is expected from them.

Training employees

Employee training plays a vital role in achieving brand compliance. Here are some reasons:

  • Enhances comprehension: employees should understand the importance of complying with your unique corporate identity standards. They need to grasp not only ‘what’ but also ‘why’. Clearing up such nuances aids in boosting their motivation towards consistent efforts.
  • Facilitates adherence: detailed orientation ensures everyone knows precisely what to do when delivering materials aligning with brand standards.

To implement efficient training around these areas, your firm should conduct regular workshops or training sessions on various aspects of branding, such as language tones and visual design principles – you could even rely on a third-party provider to do that.

Ensuring brand compliance becomes less challenging once all stakeholders clearly understand their roles in defending the integrity of your brand. With revealing training methods and a well-structured feedback system, you anchor your firm’s commitment to brand consistency while fostering a culture of open communication.

Choosing the right branding compliance tool for your financial services firm

Maintaining brand compliance across the whole financial firm can be daunting for a marketing team, already bogged down by reviewing and editing requests from the wider business.

To help save time and ensure your team can focus on more rewarding and impactful work, you should invest in a brand compliance automation solution to manage, distribute and update content effectively.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a brand compliance solution, such as the size of your firm, the complexity of your brand identity, and the level of customization you require.

You should also consider the type of documents your team produces and the functionality you require to ensure brand consistency. The right brand compliance tool should embed critical corporate identity elements into routine functions, such as creating marketing materials or crafting client-oriented pitchbooks and reports – making them easily accessible yet secure from unauthorized modification.

Some of the features and functionality you should be looking for include:

  • A centralized library to streamline access to approved material: when properly deployed, it contributes towards maintaining brand consistency by offering a go-to resource of pre-approved assets. It can also accelerate content creation timeframes as resources are readily available, reducing email back-and-forth and multiple rounds of reviews.
  • Formatting features to instantly apply company branding to various elements: this can help your team automatically apply pre-set company styles, like colors, border width and fonts, to ensure brand consistency.
  • Automated proofing to cut time on reviews: this can help all employees identify errors such as typos, incorrect fonts, misaligned shapes and empty placeholders and fix them quickly – without needing multiple reviews or marketing feedback.

Benefits of implementing an automated brand compliance solution

Of course, like any significant change within an organization’s operations, there are benefits and considerations when implementing automated brand compliance tools.

Benefits include:

Three icons showing a brief case, a magnifiying glass and some elements representing brand compliance
  1. Measured impact: with detailed tracking capabilities, you can monitor how well your branding efforts are performing and make data-based decisions on where to optimize.
  2. Increased efficiency: by eliminating the need for constant manual oversight, an automated solution expedites the creation and reviewing processes and makes creating and disseminating branded materials more efficient.
  3. Improved consistency: a brand consistency solution ensures all deliverables consistently align with your established brand image or identity, reducing chances of dilution or confusion among clients.

However, remember that even the most robust technology platform is not foolproof; occasional errors that inaccurately reflect your firm’s messaging or visual guidelines can slip through. You should choose a provider offering adoption support to familiarize all stakeholders with the solution, further driving home what brand compliance entails and why it’s crucial to their department’s function.

Case studies: effective brand consistency strategies in financial services

Here are some examples of brands that have harnessed strategic brand enforcement and solutions to elevate their overall performance.

Campbell Lutyens

The team at Campbell Lutyens, a global and independent private capital advisor, produces large volumes of PowerPoint documents daily. They used to spend hours ensuring each one was accurate, on-brand and impactful. They wanted to make it quicker and easier for teams to build quality PowerPoint documents.

Following the implementation of a brand compliance tool, they managed to save eight hours per user per month that would’ve been otherwise spent looking for the right documents and on reviews.

“Before UpSlide, everyone had their own process, so the deliverables were inconsistent. Now we’re all following a single process and using one central tool, documents are much more consistent.“

Anthea Cumming

Head of Creative Services

FRP Advisory

Leading business advisory firm, FRP Advisory, were producing a variety of different client-facing documents, from reports to pitch documents and proposals. To truly showcase the excellence of their services and the value they offer clients, it became clear that these deliverables needed to be consistent and on-brand.

They chose to implement a brand management tool to enable their teams to produce brand compliant deliverables even more efficiently.

The tool not only helped them to consistently produce homogeneous documents, but also to save a significant amount of time in document creation – saving five hours per month per user to focus on higher-value-added work.

“Teams are now producing brand compliant, homogeneous documents, whilst still maintaining the freedom to customize their content within clear parameters.”

Jenna Gadhavi

National Marketing and Communications Senior Manager

Achieving brand compliance in 2024

In today’s competetive financial services market, where reputation is paramount and customer experience is now a key differentiator, brand compliance plays an increasingly important role in business growth.

A brand compliance solution is not just a nice-to-have but a strategic investment in the long-term success of financial and professional services organizations. Features like a centralized library, formatting capabilities, and automated proofing will contribute to maintaining brand consistency across documents and materials – saving time, enhancing your team’s efficiency, and ultimately delivering a better experience to your clients.

If you’d like to hear more about how to ensure brand compliance and consistency across your firm, bookmark our Knowledge Hub or follow us on LinkedIn.

Giorgia Guantario
Giorgia is UpSlide’s Content Director. She is an accomplished content specialist, journalist and editor with over six years’ experience in B2B SaaS. She enjoys simplifying complicated concepts and starting conversations, especially when it comes to technology.

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