Creative and compliant financial advertising design

Stephen O'Toole

Posted on July 4, 2016

Every financial advertisement involves conflict between two things: creativity and compliance. If creativity dominates the agenda, there’s a risk your advert will be misleading or overlook essential FCA responsibilities. But retreat too far the other way, and overdone risk declarations and too-safe, generic product descriptions will leave you with a low-energy, carbon copy of every similar advertisement on the market.

The most successful ads know how to walk the line in between. Achieving a carefully balanced mix of inspired creative elements and FCA understanding is possible, and it’s worth some extra effort.

In our last blog, we talked through how a specialist marketing agency like Talisman could offer the competitive advantage when it comes to designing new financial adverts. We gave you some things to look out for when choosing an agency and outlined what you’ll gain if you make a good choice.

With the right agency on board, the next step is to work together to achieve that sought-for creative balance.

Follow our three steps and then take a look at some examples from Talisman’s design team to see our ideas in practice.

Three steps to perfect advertisement design

1. Know your brand guidelines

Both you and your agency should know your brand guidelines inside out, but not only that, you should be confident in your interpretation of them and in your authority to push the boundaries.

By having the right people involved from the start, you and your agency can explore what your brand guidelines might mean in practice, determine where the limits lie, agree the brand’s priorities, and discuss where guidelines can be stretched in new directions.

2. Know your regulation

Ensuring that your agency is well-versed in the latest industry regulations and guidance means that advertisement copy and compliance language will be correct and measured from the outset.

Again, this is where using a specialist marketing agency helps. A more generalist agency may have dozens of industries to navigate whereas a specialist marketing agency will have been able to hone their FCA understanding down to a fine art.

This takes the pressure off you to have to educate and check, and cuts out potential misunderstandings and hold ups. You’ll find this is especially crucial further down the line when you’re running to strict print deadlines and your advert needs to pass through internal legal and compliance departments for approval.

3. Commit to creativity

When you can be assured of regulatory compliance and both feel confident of your brand guidelines and their flexibility, it’s much safer to give your agency’s creative process more freedom. Rather than a handing over of the reins, however, this should continue to be a two-way process.

What industry advertising has impressed you? What examples can your agency share of adverts they’ve produced for other clients? Being able to agree on tangible examples of what you think looks great will make it easier to feel confident in your ad’s creative direction.

As a final consideration, remember that creativity should be expressed through copy, not just visual design. Make sure your agency, and you, are looking to add value to your advertisement through succinct, finely-tailored copy. That’s where the skill of your agency comes in: the right mix of strong messages and compliance language should look effortless and leap off the page.

Three examples to inspire


We designed and managed the 2016 trade advertising campaign for Investec Structured Products, focusing on their Defensive Kick-Out product range. Because Investec has such a strong brand image, and we’re confident using it, we were able to blend brand imagery with creative, new headline and body copy – reflecting our solid understanding of structured products and FCA regulation.


Santander Consumer Finance

Working with a specialist bike photographer, we were able to design an advert that captures Santander’s on-the-road sales team in a way that would resonate with bike enthusiasts while still being instantly recognisable as the Santander brand. Targeting a biking audience that requires finance to obtain motorcycles was the perfect way to bring Santander’s unique sales team into the spotlight and ensure their ‘talk straight’ message clearly differentiated them from their competitors.



MUFG Investor Services is a leading global asset servicing bank from Japan that works with the global investment industry. Talisman selected Tokyo imagery to best communicate MUFG’s Japanese roots and their global reach, using careful placement and simple colour schemes to communicate the brand image alongside well-written, compliant copy.