Rediscovering the emotional core to drive competitive advantage & transform the business

Despite enormous success in a crowded market, Vanguard – the world’s second-largest financial service firm based on assets under management – realized a rational brand position could only take them so far. Over time, a single proof point – low cost funds – had become elevated and solidified as the company’s brand promise. Intuiting that they were sitting on large reserves of untapped brand potential, Vanguard partnered with Brandtrust to rediscover and amplify the emotional core that could set Vanguard apart and provide them a sustainable future advantage.


Emotional Inquiry with consumer + commercial investors as well as financial advisors around the globe revealed the key insight that would unlock Vanguard’s brand potential: Investing isn’t actually about money. Rather, it’s about individuals investing in a sense of confidence and optimism for their futures.


This reframing of the concept of “investing” from being about money to being about individual vision, compassion and courage became the foundation for an elevated brand strategy. Brandtrust worked with Vanguard to develop a Brand Promise that translated their core purpose – “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and give them the best chance of investing success” – into an ownable, emotionally-driven positioning. This promise was supported with a robust Brand Framework that connected core Vanguard equities to the human needs of investors and financial professionals, and placed all the functional benefits of the brand where they belonged – as proof points.


Ultimately, this brand strategy direction inspired Vanguard’s first integrated national brand campaign as well as the positioning of core advice products, contributing to continued growth of AUM and advised AUM. Brandtrust has continued to work with Vanguard to activate the brand strategy so that Vanguard employees, clients, partners and prospects see what is most true of the organization: better investment performance is the outcome of Vanguard’s purpose.