Brand Building for Financial Services: An Interview With Phoebe Assenza, Brand Strategist

Brand Building for Financial Services: An Interview With Phoebe Assenza, Brand Strategist
Phoebe Assenza is a brand strategist and writer behind some of the most innovative fintech companies in wealth management, accounts receivable, and lending. We sat down to discuss the importance of a brand strategy for financial services and ARM firms, and what that entails.
Brand Building for Financial Services: An Interview With Phoebe Assenza, Brand Strategist
Phoebe Assenza

Brand Strategist at Rhetorica Creative

Rhetorica Creative

What is branding or brand building? Why is it important?

“Brand” is a short word to sum up a lot of details. To list a few, it’s your personality, values, legitimacy, and what you offer clients that others can’t. The essence of your brand is how clients feel about you and what they think of you — obviously, a good brand evokes positive thoughts and feelings.

You’ve worked as a brand consultant for J.P. Morgan Chase, Nova Credit, and Ellevest. How is brand building for financial services different from, say, a packaged product on a store shelf?

It’s an incredible balancing act and very few financial services get it right. You want to seem modern and accessible and assure clients that you’re different from everyone else — but you also need to communicate experience and authority in your industry.

It’s a tricky message to convey, especially when you consider the level of compliance in finance...but it can be done! I helmed a brand that was named one of Interbrand’s “Most Innovative” in the same year that the SEC did a surprise audit on our marketing, and they found nothing to be non-compliant.

Many of PDCflow’s clients are in the accounts receivable industry, either as third party collection agencies or first party healthcare and hospitals. What do you think their top priorities for creating a positive digital experience should be?

Ease of service above all else. You want to create the clearest and most intuitive digital experience you can. Get a new logo later — focus first on the steps your client takes to pay their bill. My healthcare provider sends me a push notification when I have a new bill, and I pay it with two or three taps on my phone. Everyone should be aiming for this level of ease and convenience. I’m always baffled by companies that make paying them a difficult experience. Why are you making it hard for me to give you my money? 

What projects are you most proud of? Why?

My favorite projects are when we look at the client digital experience, branding, and marketing holistically. I’ve done this with Ellevest, Weight Watchers (now WW), Reebok and others, all of which won industry awards, but also turned our users into superfans. When a consumer workflow delivers on a brand’s promise, it’s basically magic.

You are a panelist on our upcoming webinar "ARM for the Future: A Compliant, Brand-Focused Digital Strategy for Tomorrow." Can you give us a few of the items you will be covering?

At a high level, we’re going to discuss how to quickly engage consumers with your language and messaging. We’ll go through some digital experiences that have been designed with a user-first approach, and some basic branding principles that help your firm convey legitimacy and a dedication to client service.

You live in New York, NY, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current crisis has spurred a lot of emergency regulation and put a lot of ARM firms in a holding pattern. What’s your advice to them?

I know how frustrating it can be when business as usual comes to a grinding halt. I went from going to an awesome workspace in Soho,  interacting with my team and meeting clients all day, to working at my kitchen table all night after my kids go to bed. 

The best thing we can do right now is take the opportunity to look back at what we were doing before the crisis and reassess. It’s already a wildly different world, so firms will have to do things differently if they want to survive. Re-strategize, plan, think big and figure out how to pull it off, because status quo is no longer an option.


Phoebe is participating as a panelist in the upcoming webinar "ARM for the Future: A Compliant, Brand-Focused Digital Strategy for Tomorrow." She, along with Joann Needleman of Clark Hill Law and Heather Harris of PDCflow will discuss how to create and implement a digital strategy to prepare for your AR future.

Learn the importance of an online presence in your payment strategy, the legal components that must appear on your website, how digital communications can benefit your payment strategy and more. View the webinar recording today.

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– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Dawn Updike - PDCflow Marketing Manager
Dawn Updike, Marketing Manager

Dawn Updike is a Marketing Manager at PDCflow. She has a background in Customer Success and has worked in the SaaS industry for over ten years.

Connect with Dawn Updike on LinkedIn
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