By: Scott Seroka
Have you ever read a tagline or slogan and wondered what the heck it meant?
For example, how about the tagline “Impossible is nothing” in the ad above by adidas?
It’s typically what happens when cute, clever and creative get in the way of what a tagline is really meant to do – provide a succinct, memorable statement that sums up the essence of a brand.
As a mortgage lender, fintech company or any other service provider in the real estate finance industry, coming up with a tagline that sums up the essence of your brand and differentiates you can be challenging.
And this is especially true for mortgage companies, where much of what you provide in service and products are ubiquitous and necessary for being in business.
So why worry about a tagline?
This is precisely where you need to change your mindset!
The essence of your brand is not what your company does.
If you’re a mortgage company, what your company “does” is originate loans.
If you’re an LOS (loan origination software), what your company “does” is automate the loan origination cycle.
And on and on. You get the idea.
The essence of your brand, however, answers the most important question your prospects have: Why should I do business with you?
Let me explain through a few examples…
Avis is a rental car company. What Avis does is rent vehicles. The essence of Avis’ brand is going above and beyond, creatively communicated through their tagline, We try harder.
Apple is a computer manufacturer. What Apple does is make cool computers and electronic devices. The essence of their brand is challenging the status quo, craftily communicated through their tagline, Think Different.
Closer to home, Parkside Lending, one of our clients, is a wholesale and correspondent lender. The essence of their brand is caring, intelligently communicated through their tagline, Experience the power of caring.
Okay, back to you.
What is the essence of your brand?
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s walk through the process of how to answer this question in a way that is both compelling and easy-to-understand.
This will require thoughts and insights beyond those immediately around you in your marketing department or executive team. Others within your company and some of the people you do business with will express it in ways you may not have thought of.
So, here are some steps you can take to help you uncover the essence of your brand.
Step 1: Talk to your employees and get their thoughts about your brand, either through personal one-on-ones, or if you have a staff of more than thirty, through a brief online questionnaire pre-empted by a letter or email requesting their insights.
Step 2: Talk to your customers to learn what they like the most about working with you. And, as long as you have their attention, ask how you could improve your relationship with them.
Step 3: Compile the results of everything you discovered in steps 1 and 2 above, share with your leadership team and start the process of defining your value propositions.
Strong value propositions are:
- Based on facts, ideally supported with evidence of performance.
- Statements describing the value you bring to your customers. (e.g., Instead of simply saying “We exceed client expectations,” it would be much more meaningful to say, “Through our servant-leadership culture, we always do everything possible to meet and exceed our client’s expectations.”)
- Relevant to client needs
- Achievable, even in times of stress
For this step, consider retaining a good meeting facilitator. He or she will be skilled in the art of navigating the meeting in a way that gets the best insights from your group. We at Seroka can help you with this.
Step 4: Once your value propositions have been defined, you should notice a theme. This theme will point you toward the essence of your brand and what it is all about. Use this theme to create a compelling tagline your clients will be able to bond with and understand.
Step 5: Validate your tagline. Leverage the relationships you have with your customers and key stakeholders to obtain their reactions and thoughts. Your tagline should resonate well with at least 2/3 of those you interview.
A word of caution: If prospective clients need to think about what your tagline means, you’ll probably lose them in less than a few seconds.
And another word of caution, just in case you were thinking about it…Do not utilize focus groups for tagline validation. Here are four reasons why:
- There’s a high probability you’ll have a dominant personality in the group swaying the opinions of others.
- Most people don’t reveal their true feelings in front of strangers.
- Consumers react to brands, taglines and marketing messages through their own internal dialogue versus having a dialogue with a probing facilitator.
- Most people in focus groups aren’t in the market for what the brand is selling and are therefore unable to provide authentic feedback.
Just remember, don’t make the mistake of letting cutesy and clever get in the way of substance, meaning and value. Your tagline is your leading brand statement and a promise you are making to your clients.
If you follow these five steps, you’ll nail it!