9 Troubling Branding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Your brand is your claim of distinction, backed up by the evidence of performance on that claim. This is the most clear, concise way to define a “brand.” If you’re reading this, you know how important a brand is to your success. A strong brand will go a long way to help you conquer the boom and bust periods that we’re all familiar with in the mortgage industry and also reach Millennials. While some were shutting their doors during the recession, the strongest brands were strategizing their next steps and taking action, looking into the future.

Despite knowing the importance of a brand, some companies place too much focus on their product or service and fail to invest at a minimum an equal amount of time on the customer experience, or the brand. So, when it comes to the brand, the focus is more superficial and the end result can be disappointing for the customer.



Here’s a list of the 9 most troubling branding mistakes and how to avoid them…

  1. Not defining who you are. Defining who you are is much deeper than just “we’re a retail mortgage company” or “we provide LOS technology,” secondary marketing technology, portfolio risk management, etc. Your goal needs to be to define who you are in just a few simple words so that your audience understands what your driving force is or what they can expect from you. The answer is usually right in front of you because you had a distinct purpose when you started your company, right?

For example, maybe you’re a mortgage company that specializes in helping under-served population segments, like entrepreneurs, more easily achieve home-ownership. Make this obvious to your audience. Think about who your customer is, how you address their needs, how your solution is better, how you describe the personality of your company and more as you work to define who you are.

  1. Not defining what makes you different. If you’re a mortgage company, this can be quite difficult because many offer the same products that you do and everybody has great service, or at least they say they do. Therefore, you must dig deeper. Differentiation by product alone will be hard because if you have a unique product, it’s only a matter of time before others offer the same product or some variation. So differentiation beyond product offering is necessary. All companies are different…even by just a little bit.

So, in defining what makes you different, a good place to start could be taking a look at your strengths and your competitors weaknesses. Determine what it is that you possess that will win over your target audience. It’s not necessary to try to “own” a particular quality or way of doing business that no other company can duplicate. Rather your goal should be reasonable…to position yourself as a top-tier company with which to conduct business. 

  1. Too much focus on products and services. One of the biggest mistakes companies make, especially when starting out, is not placing enough focus on the customer or borrower experience. Yes, having the right product(s) is absolutely important, but this should not overshadow designing the experience you want your audience to have through the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase cycle. People emotionally connect with experiences, not products. There are plenty of products out there competing with each other to meet any particular need. Be sure that the experience is smooth and memorable.
  1. Not defining what you aspire to be. Your employees need to understand you’re aspirations as a company. This understanding shows them what the future looks like and helps them understand and appreciate what they’re working towards.

Think of it this way. Without hopes and aspirations, how would that affect the way you move through life? Would you be excited about your future? Probably not. Every day would just be another day on auto-pilot. Don’t allow your company to move in a direction where people aren’t passionate about what they’re doing and working towards. 

  1. Having a dated or unprofessional web presence. Your website and social media presence says a lot about your company, just like the clothes you wear for a meeting says a lot about you. First impressions count. The old adage “never judge a book by its cover” is not practical because people just do.

Many companies exist with substandard websites that have clip art, heavy copy, a ridiculously small font size and links that don’t work and the list goes on. This tells your audience that you lack technological prowess and probably don’t have the right technology and internal processes to facilitate a smooth transaction or get things done on time. Worse yet, it could also communicate lack of success in what you do.

The solution?

If you’re bootstrapping it or just fell on hard times, there are many places you can go to purchase a website cheaply online. Not an ideal solution, but if what you have now is really bad, it could be a step in the right direction to at least give you an updated, clean appearance along with updated functionality.

  1. Your messaging is inconsistent. This is quite common, especially for mortgage companies with many branches that don’t have brand guidelines in place and loan officers that bring old habits with them. In these cases, marketing materials look inconsistent, messaging is inconsistent, Facebook pages exist that you never knew about, individual landing pages may even exist that you can’t keep track of and the list goes on.

All of this contributes to a messaging disaster and compromises your brand. When these mortgage companies wish to right the course to better position their brands for success, they realize a culture exists that will be very hard and expensive to reverse. If you think this might be an issue for your company, consider conducting an internal and/or external brand assessment to determine exactly where the problems exist so that you know exactly what you need to work on. 

  1. Putting your social media involvement on “auto-pilot.” The whole point to social media involvement is to prompt and encourage conversation while building awareness of your expertise and your brand. 82% of people trust a company more if they are involved with social media (source: Forbes).

People will share information about their experience with your company while you share new developments and also respond to comments and more. Pay special attention to those that may have not had the best experience with your company and find a resolution hopefully prior to them leaving comments for the world to see. If they leave an unflattering comment, ignoring it could inflame the situation and attract much unwanted attention. So, monitor your accounts and stay in the conversation.

  1. Not stating clearly what you do on your website. This is probably the most troubling of all the branding mistakes listed. When a prospect lands on your website, you have very little time to make that prospect aware of who you are and what you offer before they run out of patience trying to figure it out. Ever click on “about us” and read about the company philosophy, mission statement and founders while still finding yourself clueless as to what they actually do or offer?  

If you have any doubt as to whether people will understand what you offer, go with that thought and ask somebody you trust for their feedback. Ask them “what is my product?” and see how well they answer.

  1. Not doing what you say you will do. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Every hear that before? Marketing materials are filled with carefully written paragraphs and strategically chosen pictures and comforting taglines to make the prospect feel good. People expect they will be well taken care of if they choose to do business with you. Make sure you live up to the expectations you’ve set.

Your company is more than just a vendor of products and services. Your clients choose to conduct business with you because they trust you. Use these 9 items as a checklist and evaluate yourself honestly against each one of them. Fixing any one of these mistakes can breathe new life into your company and help establish that trust.

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