Growing & Declining Brands
The financial planning category is missing out on emotion
Using StoryData™ to analyze financial planning brands’ messaging, we see that video ads cluster around highly rational themes, missing out on the fact that 95% of decision making is based on emotion (source: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow). Additionally, our topic modeling results show that brands often pack two or three different messages into one asset, while research has proven that consumer recall drops as the number of messages increases (source: Kantar Millward Brown). To stand out, identify one emotionally gripping message from the category’s thematic white spaces, and then commit to it — visionary creative needs time and repetition to resonate.
Stories from financial planning brands overuse the same visual devices
When it comes to execution — the creative presentation of a brand story — the financial planning category is rife with repetition. Mapping brand videos into genre quadrants, we can graphically visualize the executional overlaps. In brief, brands are over-indexing on the following visual motifs: blue color schemes, water-based vacations, parents and seniors as primary characters, financial advisors as secondary characters, and screenshots of technical product attributes. Your brand story exists in conversation and competition with every other brand story out there; the key to growth lies in rejecting and reimagining category conventions.
Most financial planning brands are delivering positive ESOV, but few are growing market share
Though the majority of financial planning brands are following the principles of excess share of voice, only a handful are gaining meaningful market share. That’s because excess media spending is often absorbed by the category leader: Fidelity. With a search budget that is as big or bigger than six other financial planning brands’ budgets combined, Fidelity exerts a strong gravitational force on all other market players. To ensure your media investment is reaping the rewards it deserves, consistently distribute dollars among video and search, and extend flighting schedules beyond hot periods like tax season to draw consumer attention all year long.
Financial planning brands prioritize lifestyle stories — leaving ample opportunity for differentiation
Across the category, the vast majority of brand stories lie in the “lifestyle” genre — they spotlight how a specific product or service will impact consumers’ everyday lives. While lifestyle stories make intuitive sense for the category, they’re not the only genre at brands’ disposal. Growth-focused CMOs need the confidence and courage to explore other genres and leverage conventionally ignored storytelling devices; in doing so, they will differentiate their brand within a market that’s overwhelmingly dominated by Fidelity and resonate with more diverse audiences.