Ameriprise. Be Brilliant.
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
20 April 2017
Ameriprise has a winning brand theme.
In Financial Planning, Ameriprise has a brand
The brand of Ameriprise stands out in a sea of financial planning companies. It’s not that it is the best choice. It’s simply that its brand makes technical sense.
The financial category draws my ire. For the most part, the players all spew category benefits and brag of their own expertise. Ameriprise is not exempt. It speaks of category benefits and soft-steps around any definable promises. But, it defines its brand in a reflection of the customer. And that alone gets them to the top of the pack.
Ameriprise. Be Brilliant
The important part of Be Brilliant is the object in the sentence. The YOU is implied. You, be brilliant. Most companies talk only about themselves. In finance, the shit gets even deeper. Have you heard the messages? We have been around a long time. We have reasonable fees. Our company is trustworthy. We have caring financial planners.
“Be Brilliant passes the sniff test because it is about the prospect not the company. That is a departure from the rest of the industry.”
Will this crap ever stop?
Apparently, it has. Ameriprise says that it is brilliant too. But it only infers the honor of brilliance. It is the brilliance of the investor, while choosing, that confers brilliance of them. Not the other way around.
This is the essence of great branding. Tell the customer who chooses you. Tell them who they are. All too often, a brand’s self-aggrandizement is a trap. They only speak about how wonderful they are. They ignore the prospect.
This is a regulated category
Regulated at least for the moment. Who knows if the current administration will gut those consumer protections too. But this translates into lots of fine print. It comes with a variety of disclaimers, including past performance is no guarantee of future success.
Ameriprise can’t promise you anything substantial. No promise of returns or safety beyond SIPC (The Securities Investor Protection Corporation). Regulations keep everyone on the level playing field.
Brand IS the ONLY Differentiator
Despite this, most brands masturbate and define a brand that only pleasures the executives at the firm. Self-serving drivel. Ameriprise has taken the high road. Their brand is about the chooser. You and I, if you will.
This is a departure from the traditional. Brands must be different and better from competitors. And Ameriprise went for the jugular.
Will the brand win?
That is hard to say. There is a difference between the high road and the high ground. The high ground is a strategic advantage. It has both visibility and perspective. Occupied fully, it can be unassailable.
But who is to say WHERE the high ground is?
You could occupy the heights far away from the disputed territory. Owning the HIGHEST GROUND in a disputed battlefield is the advantage.
So, I don’t know if the Be Brilliant brand is brilliant. I have no research that tells me that customers desire brilliance and smarts. It (Ameriprise) may own a place that no one covets.
But they are on the right track
We will wait and see if the ground is valuable. How long Ameriprise defends it. And if it realizes a brand theme is more permanent than a tag-line. As a brand strategist, one can only hope.
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