Building a brand identity begins with your values as an organization. Financial services companies need intuitive, concise ways to communicate why they matter.
This week, L&T sat down with Catherine Weigel, Vice President of Content at ProShares. According to Weigel, financial services firms like ProShares can reach a new set of investors by adopting marketing strategies that bring to focus their brand identity; excellent marketing is about end to end brand consistency across design, content, the firm’s values, and its product and services.
Until a couple of years ago, leading exchange traded fund (ETF) providers ProShares catered exclusively to the professional trading community. Because they offered unique services — leveraged ETFs and inverse funds — in a niche market, ProShares did not consider marketing to be a top priority. But as the company expanded into strategic funds — a more competitive market with a significantly larger client-base — it also changed its marketing tactics. Weigel shared with us in detail what this means.
Creating Content That Speaks to Your Audience
After years of dominating a niche market, ProShares had a loyal client base that knew its offerings well. But as they transitioned to a more competitive space, ProShares needed to strengthen its messaging and communicate its brand identity effectively to a new set of investors — so it turned to Weigel.
Weigel’s background is in editorial content, but her role at ProShares isn’t limited to articles and white papers. “‘Content’ is often reduced to just words,” she observes of her title. “But I’ve never seen it as just that.”
When Weigel joined ProShares, her first step was assessing their approach to product messaging. “A lot of the messaging depended on market stats, which is useful, but not repeatable or succinct,” she explains. “It wasn’t something you can take to an advisor to convince them to put a product in a client’s portfolio.”
To bridge the communication gap, Weigel worked with her team to build a clear messaging template. She encouraged ProShares product managers to structure messaging around three categories: the value proposition of the fund, three to five main benefits, and three to five important messages.
Marketing that Showcases Your Firm’s Identity
Rethinking ProShares’ marketing strategy began gradually, by creating pieces that conveyed the firm’s identity. According to Weigel, many financial services firms are still struggling to figure how to communicate who they are. “Product messaging isn’t about pumping out high quantities of content,” she explains. “It’s about pinpointing and communicating your brand beliefs. I notice it can be a challenge. A lot of firms are producing the streams of content, but they don’t understand what their story really is.”
Rather than redesign the website from scratch, Weigel is building the company’s story piece by piece. She began by busting silos and establishing communication channels between investment strategists and the marketing team, and has introduced new content slowly, page by page.
Under her guidance, ProShares now uses native ads and retargeting to generate leads and creates short, accessible content to drive further engagement. For Weigel, these steps help to segment the ProShares audience, figure out what connects, and gradually steer ProShares toward a recognizable brand narrative.
Whether it comes to sales materials or the company website, Weigel believes that finding a strong brand identity forms the foundation of successful marketing. “Marketing isn’t just about making things look pretty — it’s really meant to be a strategic signpost for a firm’s entire identity,” she says. “You have to start with a conversation about the firm’s story, what interests investors about them, and what they feel their differentiating offer is. Once you have that, you can center firm messaging around it and even start tailoring it to different audiences.”
A Strong Brand Begins with the Human Connection
For Weigel, finding a brand identity is about communicating the impact financial services can have on their clients’ lives. Financial products exist to support life-changing decisions — buying a home, saving for college, or planning an estate. Financial companies’ identities should accentuate this indispensable human connection. “You have to make your brand beautiful, authentic, and relatable, but when someone digs behind the service just a little bit, they also have to see that there’s something real behind it,” Weigel explains.
A company’s marketing efforts should always keep meaningful relationships in mind. “Any time you’re talking about branding, marketing, communications, or financial services, everyone has to realize that this is ultimately a human interaction — it’s about a human connecting with another human,” Weigel says. “So content has to be something understandable, and that resonates. Design has to be appealing and that makes the intake of information easier. You can never lose sight of that.”