Brand as Fuel: Reimagining Wealth Management Branding

Our relationship with money is changing. The trust that we once placed in financial institutions is no longer a guarantee. And the rules about when and how we make our living are blurring across every generation. Today, investors are looking for solutions that fall outside of the norm.  

For brands looking to stand out and service these evolving client needs, a new standard has emerged. Enter Osaic—one of the nation’s largest providers of wealth management services that sees the industry playing a very different role in the future lives of both advisors and clients alike.  

At Sullivan, we partnered with Osaic as they sought to build a brand designed for this new money mentality. Their new brand centers on the lives of advisors instead of just their business, connecting to their sense of purpose, ownership, and identity. In doing so, Osaic is looking to offer advisors more than just a badge of trust or the rules of the road. Instead, they are focused on providing the fuel advisors need to succeed, grow, and thrive—all while helping their clients do the same. 

A new formula for wealth management branding 

For decades, most of the wealth management industry was built around putting clients into neat boxes—organizing them based on age, life stage, relationship status, and goals. Despite the strides made in shedding these practices by many influential firms in the industry, its ubiquitous influence still affects how many wealth management brands function. 

When we think about the way brands in this space have functioned to date, we typically see two models: Security Blankets and Backseat Drivers 

The Security Blanket model pushes advisors to conform to a tight brand expression, in effect wearing the brand over everything to safeguard legacy and institutional trust. Backseat Drivers, on the other hand, enable advisors to function as the brand familiar to the client but decide arbitrarily to intercede—suddenly limiting their ability to maintain their personal relationships with clients. 

While some wealth management leaders have moved beyond these models, they are still the blueprint—informing and impacting today’s common practices and perspective. Neither of them speak to the new money mentality we see emerging, and both ultimately fail to provide what advisors need from a brand to accelerate their business: fuel.  

Osaic recognizes that for advisors to adequately service the needs of their end clients, they need robust organizational support and greater flexibility. That’s why they substitute guidelines for service—creating a culture of belonging where each advisor is given exactly what they need to see their business thrive. 

What does brand as fuel look like? 

First and foremost, future-facing wealth management brands give up some control to their constituents to become a vehicle for higher values rather than mandates. This allows advisors to take center stage without feeling disconnected from the collective.  

While many sites today are still built on an institutional structure that centers on products and services, fuel-driven brands need to curate sites that live alongside their users. To do that, sites can emulate a SaaS or direct-to-consumer marketing experiences that help tell a more life-centric story. These approaches excel at demonstrating benefits to the end user in a practical way, allowing them to see how a brand would integrate with their current situation.  

With Osaic’s new site, we sought to convey empathy with the end investor, filling the space with inviting gestures and interactions, and populating it with content that leaned into testimonial—shedding a light on genuine, real stories. The site experience evokes the feeling that Osaic is here to plug into your life, not the other way around. 

Wealth management brands have the opportunity to become more than just set dressing or a rule book. They must evolve to actively participate in the lives of investors and advisors alike. Support doesn’t necessarily mean telling advisors what they need to do. It’s empowering them to operate the way they feel is best. 

The future of wealth management   

Today’s financial advisors are being asked to move beyond transactions to consider the conditions, aspirations, and realities that investors face as individuals. What they need doesn’t fall into neat, easy-to-check boxes that track to one of a dozen plans. They need advisors that are empowered to advise—to engage, collaborate, and envision a strategy that allows them to thrive. Osaic is a brand built from the ground up with this idea in mind. There, lives supersede products, transformation is valued over transactions, and advisors trade-in out a network for a community.