5 Things You Should Know About Brand Reinvention
Katya Andresen, when she was the incoming President of ePals, wrote a blog post about brand reinvention that I thought was especially pertinent to the mortgage industry. Many of the ideas she shared are included in this post.
Changing a name or logo, or creating a new ad campaign, does not constitute brand reinvention. It’s much more involved than that. When done properly, reinventing a brand can attract new referral relationships thereby building greater market-share and business volume. But, if you short-cut the process, you could cheat yourself out of some tremendous benefits.
This is especially true for retail lenders who today must rely more heavily on business relationships, especially with Realtors®, as refinances begin to dwindle and MSA’s are under fire. If you’ve concentrated mainly on refinancing and your competitors have done a better job of balancing their refi and purchase transactions, then your brand reinvention better have a good story behind it.
So, what are the rules for reinventing your brand? Here are five you should live by…
1) Simply creating a new campaign or tagline won’t cut it. Closing the gap between who you are now and who you desire to be takes more than that. People may compliment you on your new logo, tagline or campaign, but they will view you as the same company unless there is real substance to back these efforts up. In other words, authenticity is key.
In the case of mortgage companies, if your new focus is on generating more business referrals, a complete overhaul in your corporate culture may be required, such as changing how your company deals with customers, hires originators, and uses technology.
If your company provides other industry products and services, you will have similar challenges during a reinvention and may need to review your product offering, people, approach to customers, etc., to close the gap and bring everything into alignment. Is your product truly the best? If so, according to who? Be sure you can back it up with customer testimonials, case studies, or product comparisons.
2) Know where you stand and accept it. A reality check can be difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to reinvent your brand successfully. Many companies chug along believing things are fine, even when there’s evidence that maybe they’re not.
If you have anecdotal information that indicates challenges for your company, do some research to get the complete picture. Often measurable and sustainable growth can’t be accomplished by merely selling harder and running faster. You must acknowledge all the facts to make the right adjustments that will take your company to the next level.
If you discover through research that your brand is not where you hoped it would be, then you can take steps to straighten things out. And, if you find out your company is considered as good as or better than you thought, then you have great intel to leverage in your marketing efforts.
3) Demonstrate your worth. If you desire to reinvent your brand, you must make an honest and in-depth assessment of your talents – which is truly at the core of brand reinvention. By understanding your talents and building upon them, you can move beyond “telling” your audience that you’re valuable, to actually “showing” them.
Some ways to demonstrate your value include consistent customer/non-customer interactions, case studies, testimonials, white papers, and who you employ. The point is, you can’t just make a claim, you must actually do it and live it. Great examples of this are Zappos!, Harley Davidson and Disney. They focus on giving people experiences at every single touch point. The very essence of your brand is what you do for others.
4) Be authentic. Over time, companies can change – just like people. To make sense of these changes, you must build a narrative that people can understand which bridges the gap between what you were and what you’ve become. If you don’t, you can seem fake to your target audience. People should understand the “why” behind what you’re doing so they can make sense of it and explain it to others.
Consider this example: A company used to offer one or two services, but has decided to sell a suite of related services as well in order to provide customers an easier, more centralized shopping experience. Telling your audience the story behind this change is important because, otherwise, it will view you the same as you were before – just with an unexplained expanded offering.
Remember, people like a good story, so tell them yours! Reality TV has fostered in people a desire for authenticity. Granted, many of these shows have some level of scripting involved, but they are generally accepted as real. As a result, people today are more naturally curious and want to see “what’s under the hood.”
5) When reinventing your brand, don’t let outsiders influence “who” you want to become. This will only water down what you stand for and is the fatal flaw of most brand reinventions. Many companies survey the market and become what the market dictates, only to end up looking like all of their competitors who have done the same. This is precisely why so many competing companies say the same things about themselves just with different words. That’s not brand differentiation. That’s brand similarity – the polar opposite of you want to achieve when reinventing your brand.
I hope you found these rules helpful. The bottom line is that if you find a need to reinvent yourself, there is no shortcut that can be sustaining. Shortcuts are discovered over time, even if not immediately. A reinvention has to run deeper than what your audience sees in print and nice design work…it has to take place at the core of your existence first which will drive everything else.