Part of my role as Commonwealth’s chief business development officer is to work with advisors on their firm’s brand strategy—What is your brand? What would you like it to convey?—as well as methods to carry out that strategy—How do you promote your brand to attract ideal clients?
In my last blog post, I wrote about branding and some of the key issues advisors face when choosing a firm name. I also outlined the pros and cons of naming your practice after yourself; the short answer is, we don’t recommend it. Right after that blog article was posted, I received a call from an advisor. He understood why naming his firm after himself was limiting and agreed with all the reasons I laid out—but what, then, should he name his firm? The advisor was at a loss as to how to proceed.
What Should You Name Your Firm?
So, how should you go about naming your financial advisory firm? There is no one absolute right or wrong answer. The key is to have the name reflect something that’s important to you, as it will become part of and help to promote your brand. In general, I find that advisors can usually find a name that resonates by choosing from one of the following categories:
Geographic or natural landmarks. Names that reflect a particular landmark or natural feature tend to be popular and can help to convey a local presence. Think water features (Atlantic or Pacific, Coastal, Three Rivers, Cove), trees (Acorn, Oak), animals (Eagle), mountains (Black Mountain), and other physical descriptors (Covered Bridge, Beacon). If you find a name of this kind that you love, often, it can be easier to create your logo and find images to promote your brand through your website. Cities, towns, regions, and street names can make for great firm names as well.
Intrinsic qualities or values. Advisors sometimes want to convey a business value that they hold dear (Allegiant, Affinity, Integrity) or one that will resonate with their dream clients (Legacy, Heritage, Milestone, Navigate). Both options can be effective, so think about the story you would tell to go with your name. What is most compelling?
Aspirational words. A different approach is to choose a name that expresses what clients and prospects might like to achieve (Summit, Pinnacle, Prosperity, Wealth) or the feelings that come with working with the advisor (Empower, Confidence, Trust, Reliance).
Hobbies or interests. This is the hardest category to describe, as it tends to be very specific to the advisor. I know of one former college basketball player and current coach who decided to name his firm Centered Wealth Strategies because he liked the idea of tying in the position he played with his unswerving focus on the client. Another advisor named his firm Rivettas as a way to connect his years spent as an engineer working on bridges (with their rivets for strength) with the security that comes from a solid financial plan.
Specializations or niches. While there aren’t many currently, some firms try to reflect their unique differentiator in their name (Retirement Planning Resources, Wise Women). But with all the mergers and acquisitions happening in the industry, it seems likely that advisors will need to focus their skills to stay competitive, which means we could start seeing more firm names that reflect a specialization.
Making a Meaningful Choice
As you work through the process of naming your financial advisory firm, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Make sure that your new firm name comes with a story worth telling. People will always ask you what’s behind the name of your business, so it should have enough meaning that you want to tell it on your website and social media, too. Try to give your story a sense of purpose—why you do what you do, how you do it, and what problems you solve.
Test your new name with staff and trusted friends to make sure it conveys to them what you intended.
I’ve focused on the first part of your new firm name here, but be sure to think carefully about the second part of the name, too. Are you “Financial Services,” “Wealth Managers,” or “Wealth Advisors”? Perhaps you are “Retirement Consultants” or “Investment Strategies.” Some compliance guidance may be needed here, depending on your practice and the words you choose, so be sure to run it by your Compliance department before finalizing anything.
Does Your Brand Need a “BackRub”?
As your business changes and matures, so can your brand. Don’t feel that you have to stick with a name you don’t like or branding that no longer conveys the type of work you do just because that’s what you started with. It’s never too late to improve or take a fresh approach to your business.
In fact, that’s what the smart folks at BackRub decided to do. Starting in 1996, the company offered a program that “analyzed the web’s ‘back links’ to understand how important a website was and what other sites it related to.” The BackRub name was apt and worked well, but the founders thought it didn’t do enough to convey the vast amount of data they were indexing. So they held a brainstorming session and came up with a new name: googol, which is the word for the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. And this company, whose mission was to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” never looked back. So well did their new name work and so high was the brand’s appeal that “Google” is now officially a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary, synonymous for “to search.”
So, What’s Your Story?
If you’ve got a great name and story for your business, I’d love to hear it. And if you think your business could benefit from branding or marketing assistance, talk to us here at Commonwealth. We’ve got uncommon ideas and ways of thinking that can move your practice forward. Feel free to BackRub—I mean, Google!—us to learn more about our unique culture, programs, and service standards.
This material is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice.