Branding High-end Financial Services? Location, Location, Location.

I picked up my New York Times Magazine today, and because I know that a huge part of branding is association, looked to see which advertiser had purchased the prestigious back cover of the liberal's equivalent of the Sunday reading of The Scripture. I didn't have to get it through the full 180 turn before the deep green, gold bar, and handsome photographic portrait tripped my brand wires: First Republic Bank, featuring the vaunted computer scientist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist (he's probably a nice guy, to boot), Peter Thiel.


First Republic has it down. They didn't always have it down, as their ads used to look a little rough around the edges, and the photography did not always exemplify the highest production values. But the personalities/clients they featured were always topnotch. The 1% presented without irony, exuding confidence and intelligence. Good breeding quite optional (though success a requirement).
Blue blood optional: A recent ad from WIRED.com
But as powerful in their brand messaging as the people featured in their ads (which run in only the most respected and interesting publications) is this little note from their website about where one can find a First Republic office:


First Republic delivers its relationship-based service through offices in the following geographies: San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Portland, Boston, Greenwich and New York City.


Yes. Indeed. Though there are a few more locales in which I might ask them to open a branch (were they to ask me, of course), the locations they've chosen speak volumes about what their brand stands for, and for whom it stands. None of these places is ostentatious. None of them jump out and scream "NEW MONEY!"  All of them exhibit a level of intelligence and refinement that is very, very First Republic.


So let's review. If you're selling high-end financial services (not just banking, but finance, insurance and real estate, too) and are looking to expand, consider location as part of your brand's media strategy. An office on the El Camino Real in Palo Alto or Mason Street in Greenwich is the equivalent of an ad in The Economist or The New York Times Magazine, and much more tangible to your target audience. 


Not sure where to locate? Ask your customers. They'll happily tell you where you belong, in terms of advertising and offices.

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