Article for NIBA Newsletter | Copyright Jane Rubin 2021
Ad Agency: TOTALVIEW Global | totalviewglobal.com
TEL 917-539-0899 | [email protected]
Commit to it.
NIBA Members are experts in the art of trading, trading technology, and trading systems. You provide depth and cutting-edge products and services. You have years of experience with a range of futures and commodities instruments and complex global markets. You are obsessed with industry innovation. You are equally obsessed with precise, consistent execution. You provide round-the-clock attention to detail in how you service your clients.
However, too often your branding does not live up to that depth and expertise. The intention of my bluntness is to motivate: Having reviewed the websites of numerous firms in the NIBA Directory, in terms of online presence they fall into two general categories: 1) unoriginal template-based design, (i.e. WordPress or Joomla sites;) or 2) not designed at all, (i.e. textual content roughly and hastily thrown up on html pages).
Regardless of the scale of your firm, or if your target demographic is institutional or retail, you will expand your brand reach lucratively in 2021 and for the long-term if you are committed to the excellence and innovation of your branding to the same degree that you commit to the excellence and innovation of your products, services, and knowledge-base.
In 2021, the adage that “Content is King” is only partially true and overly simplistic. To reign above the competition, true brand differentiation, end-to-end, original, custom design, and fresh, informative content are all requirements. Otherwise, your brand is forgettable noise.
Commit to the Custom-Made Barcelona Chair.
It is an absolute fact that investing in branding excellence will generate greater ROI and sustained stability and growth, provided that one is also committed to product and service innovation and excellence.
Let’s use a metaphor for how to build a lasting, valuable brand from the ground up: The Barcelona Chair. Originally designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929, the Barcelona Chair is a metaphor for innovation, elegant design, and lasting dominance. In the past 90 years, the minimalist Barcelona Chair has remained iconic and coveted, gaining in value. In 2021, a rare, vintage Barcelona chair can cost well over $30,000. Even a new, custom-made Barcelona Chair by Knoll runs around $5000-$10,000. Mies applied the phrase “God is in the details” to his practice and took an elegant, “less is more” approach to architecture and design. That is the level of end-to-end commitment one must make to brand building.
On the other hand, you can simply throw up an undifferentiated WordPress site and chase leads with AdWords. To extend the chair metaphor, that approach would be the equivalent of ordering a couple of inexpensive barstools from Amazon. No matter how feature-rich, fast, and stable the trading platform(s) you offer are, and no matter what the performance of your AI-powered trading system is, the branding and design that houses your products and services must be consistently unique and elegant for you to achieve the highest growth-level, and sustain it. Supposedly disruptive digital marketing techniques are merely the outer shell of a brand building strategy, not the core. In branding, when one lacks a differentiated core, one is merely wasting one’s budget on a flashy house of cards — do not do that — commit to building a brand that becomes the Farnsworth House of the 21st Century.
The Dominant Brand Chessboard consists of the following components — click here:
King and Queen
Original Brand Identity and Hero Concept, Custom Web Design, Thorough SEO and Cybersecurity, Informative Content (Regularly Updated,) Community Giving, and You, (CEO,) Speaking Directly to your Target Demographic
Original Trade Show/Experiential Marketing, Partnership Marketing, YouTube Channel,
Trader Education, Special Webinars
Bishops and Knights
Email Blasts, Banner Advertising, Social Media, Blogs
PPC Campaigns: PPC advertising should not be a top-level focus of your marketing. While easily measured PPC data may have an appeal to the data-based trading industry, if your website is great and the SEO is equally great, you will achieve multiple first-page rankings organically. That is pure platinum. Achieving top rankings organically will draw higher quality leads to you without having to throw away large amounts of advertising dollars on AdWords or Facebook Ads. (Honestly, I rarely click on any PPC Ad. They can even make a brand seem desperate and should be towards or at the bottom of your branding-advertising-marketing totem pole. One’s focus should be on investing in a great logo, tagline, custom website, organic SEO-SEM, and substantive content).
Two Abbreviated Case Studies
The following are abbreviated reviews of two financial industry sites. They are not NIBA members, but the same rules apply.
In combination with one’s logo and tagline, the Hero Image or Hero Video on the home page functions as top-level branding. Gateway Bank’s messaging emphasizes the fact that it maintains a human-to-human, neighborly connection with its customers. However, the aerial Hero Video of the bank is cold and distant.
The Hero Video should transition from the aerial view to inside the bank, where you meet the CEO and staff members.
The three boxes beneath the Hero Video are too many different colors. The use of generic clip art icons lessens the quality of the site.
The boxes should be three shades of one color. Create custom icons. Re-build the site from the ground up with custom design and code, rather than WordPress. This provides total control over each element and better site security.
On the desktop site the Hero Video is intended to represent Bloomberg Professional and its users as being on top of fast-paced, complex global markets and world events. However, the stream of images, fast cuts, and continual motion expresses mania rather than a calm perspective. Moreover, the fast montage approach is dated, and the images are overly literal. The montage does not make use of metaphor, which makes it a “flat” and conventional piece of branding.
Create a video that metaphorically conveys calm amidst constant global change and flux. (I am not being specific, intentionally).
On the desktop site the typography contains amateur mistakes from top to bottom. One example is the headline. Again, the Hero Image/Video on a home page, and the headline, are top-level branding elements. These elements should be conceptualized and executed with originality and precision. However, in this case the headline typography is not elegant. The headline’s kerning, i.e. the letter spacing, is both too tight and inconsistent. This is a WordPress site. So, the capital “I” and lower case “a” on the top and bottom lines are aligned mathematically, but the alignment is visually wrong.
Whether or not one cannot sleep when the visual design is not pixel perfect, (like me,) everyone at some level senses the difference between “balanced” and “sloppy,” the former eliciting a positive reaction and greater trust for the brand, while sloppiness alienates. A stop-limit order must be precisely set to yield optimal results. Likewise, this actually does matter: In the headline “Information, connectivity and opportunity,“ the lower case “a” and entire bottom line should be moved slightly to the left, anywhere from 2 – 5 pixels. This would create proper visual alignment and balance. If this were an entirely custom-designed and developed website, the visual designer and developer would spend 30 minutes on perfecting the kerning and leading of the headline. The designer and developer would also take a few hours, or even a few days, to ensure that the kerning of all of the headlines, subheads, and body copy across the entire site are elegant, by implementing custom letter-spacing in the site’s CSS style sheets. While a WordPress Developer can customize a WordPress site to some extent, precision and perfection cannot be achieved with a template-based CMS.
As we transition away from the pandemic (hopefully,) it is more important than ever to connect with your demographic face-to-face, and not only on Zoom. While traders obsess about “I-It” matters, the tangible and measurable elements, such as platform functionality, and price-action and liquidity — while repressing emotion — they are nevertheless seeking a positive attachment with the leadership of their IB, one that recognizes and nurtures their trading practice without being intrusive.
A closing best practice recommendation is to have the Hero Video on your home page eschew the representation of an “I-It” relationship — that is eschew the usual trading platform and chart photos — and instead, create an “I-Thou” relationship with the visitor. When the CEO of the firm directly introduces him or herself and his or her expertise, mission, products and services, and community involvement, and does so in an unpretentious style, that induces trust. The face-to-face connection must also go beyond the screen and take place in person. Focus on genuine relationship marketing. Be a positive attachment for your customers as an antidote to the estrangement caused by an increasingly dehumanized economy.