Why asset managers should break free from safe brand imagery

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By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 21 March, 2019
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Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and retain 80% of what we see versus just 20% of what we read. So by sticking to safe, lackluster brand imagery, you could be actively hindering engagement with your brand.

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Many global asset and wealth managers bind themselves to safe brand imagery, steering clear of bold and unique imagery perceived as damaging or misaligned with the brand. Brand safe imagery doesn’t have to be boring and given how difficult it is to capture the attention of asset management clients, it can’t afford to be.

To capture your audience’s attention when scrolling through a social feed, asset managers need images that will arrest the eye and pique interest in the content. Though with stereotypical finance images seemingly the default for brands, standing out isn’t overly difficult. By looking at financial topics and analysis from a creative, left of field angle and in the context of a broader theme, it will inspire more unusual and powerful imagery. Ultimately, getting creative with your imagery can be the difference between the success or failure of your campaign. Here’s how to choose images that will stop customers in their tracks.

With stereotypical finance images seemingly the default for brands, standing out isn’t overly difficult.

Mix and match imagery

Ensuring your image choices are varied in nature is a simple way to maintain interest. Consider using a mixture of colours, photography, illustration etc. across the breadth of your content; and check back to see what has performed well. This should be considered for an individual post as well as for a content collection. A great example of this is Aberdeen Standard Investments use of variety across its collection of industry insights content - Thinking Aloud.

The section landing page is a feast for the eyes, with a variety of colour and textures, while enhancing rather than simply accompanying or worse, detracting from the message each article is communicating. There is a good combination of photographic, illustrative and abstract images which both contrast and complement.

[Full disclosure: Aberdeen Standard Investments is a client of The Dubs]

Putnam Investments is another great example of a cohesive landing page with strong imagery; once again with a mixture of photography and abstract illustrations pushing to captivating headlines while providing context for the content.

All individual images still hold a direct association with their subject matter and it’s easy for a reader landing on the page to get an understanding of which topic is of interest to them, thanks to the image/headline combination. 

Be bold with brand imagery

Remember: content and imagery go hand-in-hand Some great examples, where both the choice of imagery and its corresponding headline aptly portray the value of the article include :

1. Aberdeen Standard Investment -  The sugar rush fades: corporate earnings will underpin future stock market movements

An eye-catching graphic for a difficult topic. The image draws the reader in while supporting the opening headline and inviting interest to read the full article.

2. Franklin Templeton - MPs say no to no deal news article

Brexit is a well-known topic for asset managers, but the image of a classic British train station combined with a tongue-in-cheek illustration relating to Brexit pulls the reader in amidst a plethora of Brexit coverage.

3. Aberdeen Standard Investment - Week in review: Vietnam or bust

Continuously finding strong images for regular or episodic content can be much tougher than a unique article. In this example the use of illustrative tools takes an otherwise standard photo to a new level - creating a far more appealing and click-worthy piece of content.

4. PIMCO - Smart Charts

One area PIMCO excel in is using the data itself to tell a story and draw the reader in - the charts are the main image, and they in themselves provide the content that will capture attention.

5. Aberdeen Standard Investment - Governing in the age of outrage

The strong graphic used to underpin this headline adds weight to both the concept of ‘governing’ and ‘outrage’, again thereby actively reinforcing and clarifying the content within.

6. Perpetual - Taxes, plucking and hissing in the 2019 election

Another asset management not afraid to be different is Perpetual; with this great example playfully speaking to the headline and the inevitable controversy that surrounds an election year. The imagery is unusual enough to catch the eye but remains on topic and in context of both the headline and the broader article.

Back to basics

Choosing the right images and showing them off to their best advantage is crucial. When posting content you need to check images are high resolution and are the right size for the platform they’re being posted on. Hubspot has a handy bookmarkable guide to social media image sizes that is a simple reference tool to help get the basics right.

According to author and biologist, Dr John Medina, images are key to remembering information. If we hear something, we’re likely to remember only 10% of it 3 days later. Pair a relevant image with that data and people can retain 65% of the information after the same time period. Jakob Nielsen also found that on an average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; although 20% is more likely. These simple stats should serve as a constant reminder that images matter; and choosing the right ones to stand out is vital.

The battle to break away

If you find you come up against roadblocks from the keepers of your brand guidelines, your argument is clear. When it comes to imagery, your brand and your editorial content should be seen as two separate, but complementary entities. Editorial imagery is designed to capture attention and drive customers to your brand, and once there, brand-specific image serves to portray the personality of the brand and present it in the best way possible. It’s not a case of one existing without the other, but rather working in partnership to fulfil an end goal.

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Annabel is a digital marketer and seasoned writer with 15 years' experience working with global agencies and finance brands. With a particular love for SEO, analytics and all things data; Annabel draws on her industry experience and enjoys writing about growth and marketing solutions that tackle the challenges of finance marketing in a holistic manner.