Getting Feedback Is Required In Discovering Your Brand


Your brand is what people (and Google) say it is.

Your brand is critically important to attracting referrals and new clients. In some ways, it is the cumulative whole of your marketing efforts. It is the totality of the experience someone has with your firm. It includes your marketing, your office, the appearance and demeanor of your staff, what you do for clients and how you do it, and your customer service. And as much attention as you might paid to it, it is not under your complete control.

Your client experience is not necessarily what you say it is. While I am certain that to strive to provide great customer service, the clients’ actual experience may not live up to your intentions. You may take a little bit too long to return a phone call. Someone on your staff might inadvertently be discourteous. Your office hours may not be convenient. It might even be that the experience you so carefully design is not exactly what the client wants.

Think of branding in the context of the hospitality industry. If I ran a hotel, I can think of a lot of things I would do to make sure that my patrons had a wonderful experience. I would also make it a habit to set aside a little time on most days to check Yelp, Trip Advisor, and any other travel websites that collected opinions. If someone did not have the experience they were hoping for, I would want to know about it. And, if you have ever reviewed one of those sites while preparing for a trip of your own, you know those would be the places where you would find out what you could do better.

Luckily (I think) for us, it is not quite as easy to post comments about financial advisors. The flipside of that, however, is that we have a lot less input as we attempt to refine our brand. But don’t fool yourself. Even if they are not posting their thoughts on public websites, your clients are certainly thinking about your brand. And the more information you can gather about what they are thinking, the more you can be sure that the experience you deliver is the one your clients want to talk about with their friends and acquaintances.

When was the last time you typed your own name or the name of your firm into Google? Why not do that every so often to see what is being said about you publicly? Even better, put your name, your firm’s name, maybe even your staff’s names, into Google Alerts and automatically get notified as soon as something pops up on the Internet.

That’s the no-cost simple stuff. Your branding efforts would not be complete without something more sophisticated. Periodically do a client survey. Organize a client advisory board. Make sure that your clients have a voice in creating and managing your brand. Whether you involve them or not, it’s what they think that they will be telling all their friends. Only good things can come from making sure that you hear those comments as well.


  1. Greg BrownJuly 16, 2012


    I will add this nuance, which is based on working with dozens of top PR agencies and Fortune 500 PR / Corporate communications officers. There is a discussion amounst these PR/ Corp Comm types around the notion of Brand vs Reputation. It goes something like this…Your "Brand" is what you WANT to project. It is the combination of Marketing, PR, Advertising, your client service stategy etc. But its your "Reputation" that represents who and what your firm REALLY is in the market. Its the sum total of how you treat your clients and what they say about you in their circle of friends. Reputation is more difficult to manage to as it happens across evey single client interaction. The risk is in thinking your Brand and your Reputation is one in the same. Sometimes that's a big gap and sometimes its small. It important to know the difference.

    And Steve to your point, the best way to know the answer to this question is to ask your clients how they feel about your service, and would they recommend you to to a friend. It the ultimate client satisfaction metric.

    It also important to have the right systems and processes to enable your staff to deliver the highest level of client service and most importantly do it at scale.

    Greg Brown

    IAS Software

  2. Stephen WershingJuly 16, 2012


    Good points; thanks for contributing them!

    Let me add to your comments in a way that may be productive for advisors. Your brand can be thought of as what you want to project, and your reputation is what people say about you. The process of brand management can be thought of as bringing your reputation in line with what you want your brand to be.

    And I agree, systems are critical. Just as important as delivering a high level of service, is delivering exactly the things your brand promises. If you do not deliver great service, your brand suffers. If you do not deliver just what you said you would in your brand, your brand suffers as well.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. JackJuly 19, 2012

    This is good basic information. The idea of a client advisory board is an interesting one. What would that look like? Would you have someone outside of me to manage? How many clients should be on this board? What should be the purpose?

  4. Stephen WershingJuly 19, 2012

    Thanks for stopping by and for your question on advisory boards. You will see over on the right under "Topics" client advisory boards. Clicking on that will pull out 22 posts on various aspects of putting together a board. In addition, you can download my free white paper on putting together your board. If you would like more than that or to talk about having us help you organize yours, please feel free to contact me at

  5. Jon PitthamJuly 23, 2012

    Great post. I'm always amazed at how few firms gather quality client feedback. We've just undertaken some qualitative feedback for a firm hear in the UK who are at the top of their game, the results reaffirmed that their reputation was closely matched to their brand (what they wanted to project) but still raised some important issues for them to work on.

    The performance of a business is dependent on the perception of those who interact with it…



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