The Yin and Yang of Style and Substance: Complementary Powers in Financial Services Marketing

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In financial services marketing, we know that substance is a criteria for decision making. It is a fundamental part of the communications equation.

Solving the equation is not easy given the density of competitive financial offers, news, and entertainment messages in play. And, the challenge is magnified by the discovery that adult humans currently have an attention span less than that of goldfish.

This is where style becomes tantamount. How you package your message is critical — and it powers the communication equation. Think about TED talks. Not only does the non-profit conference series bring together global thought leaders from a disparate array of disciplines — tech, design, science, culture and academia — under the umbrella of “Ideas worth spreading,” but it makes its content easy to distribute, access, and interact with. The consistent and recognizable TED format is the basis of an experience that fosters engagement, and it’s a purely masterful balance of substance + style.

We believe financial services companies can achieve this balance of yin and yang, too. After all, “style personifies.” This truth is core to our philosophy. Style infuses the substance of an offer with the characteristics of a brand — it is a factor that can multiply results and it must always be part of the equation. Style is:

  • The look. What are the attributes of your brand? How can you deliver your message in a way that is on brand and styled to attract the target audience? Visual impressions are your first impression.
  • The tone. Is your brand voice empathetic? Energetic? Expert? The words you choose and the way you structure content should deliver substance and express your style verbally.
  • The experience. What does your brand feel like? Style and substance come together in the experience you create — whether through your brand’s digital and social presence, in person or via its many touch points.

Financial services marketers should remember this equation: Style plus substance equals potential. Engagement is the clear signal that you have solved it.

P.S. If you are reading this sentence, congratulations: You beat the goldfish!