How much your audience values your brand as a mortgage company or mortgage industry service provider is a key determinant of how well your business performs, right? And, just like the success of any company is financially quantifiable, so is the value of its brand. It should be considered an asset, similar to the property you own, the building you occupy and the software you use to make your company efficient. However, unlike those examples, your brand is intangible, which just makes it more challenging to valuate.
While formalized valuation methodologies exist that financially quantify a brand’s value with a real number, the purpose of this post is not to detail how it’s done. Rather, we want to review what components contribute to a brand’s strength and value.
- Top-of-mind awareness: Achieving top-of-mind awareness is something every brand should aspire to. When there is top-of-mind awareness, people connect loose associations with a brand to the brand itself. A great example of this…consider a restaurant’s need to point out that they serve Pepsi products when a person orders a Coke. The brand Coke has become so synonymous with cola, that people substitute the brand name for the type of soft drink they want.
Marketing strategies that allow consumers to build a network of associations around a brand’s essence can help create greater top-of-mind awareness. Another great example…when people think of McDonald’s, they think of cheap food, variety, speed, and on-the-go dining with the franchise. What does your audience associate with your company?
- Brand promises have been made and kept: A brand is a claim of distinction reinforced by the evidence of performance, so it can be considered a “promise” to your audience. But, if that promise is consistently not kept, the brand will have little to no value. When consumers are told to expect certain things from a brand – whether it’s “great service,” speed, technology support availability or anything else – they expect those claims to be fulfilled. Therefore, to earn customer loyalty through repeat business and build a brand’s value, it is necessary to make good on those promises.
- Differentiation from competitors: Especially for mortgage lenders, title companies, appraisal firms and others in the industry offering a product or service considered more of a commodity, differentiating your brand from your competitors is crucial to building its value. If there is no perceived difference in products and/or the companies that offer them, there’s no reason to value one brand over another.
Uniqueness is something that must permeate a brand at all levels, from its position in the marketplace to its core identity. When a brand successfully breaks away from the clutter, your audience tends to view alignment with your brand as a smart decision both from an emotional and logical standpoint because you’re doing something for them or providing them with something they feel they can get from you and not from your competitor.
- Customer satisfaction: Brands that achieve high satisfaction ratings from surveys are considered reliable in terms of the consistency with which they deliver quality. Closely related to this concept is perceived value. The quality of a software product or any other mortgage-related product or service alone could cause someone to view it favorably. But, if the price tag attached to it is considered unreasonable, the perceived value of the brand usually diminishes.
Interestingly, highly valued brands are those that establish close relationships with their target audience. If a brand creates an emotional attachment with the user, it’s valued more than the product or service itself. This emotional attachment can be accomplished by consistently living and delivering on your brand promise before, during and after the sale is consummated.
- Trust: To ensure loyalty, brands must earn and keep the trust of their customers. This is especially true of brands that handle sensitive personal information like mortgage companies or servicers. Certainly, firms in the mortgage industry space fall into this category. Therefore, it is important to measure the level of trust your clients and business partners feel toward your brand so you can improve your offering and better target your brand messaging. Survey them to find out if they trust your brand, and if so, find out how you earned it.
- Goodwill: Goodwill or brand esteem is when your audience has an appreciation for and attraction to a specific brand. It is much more than brand familiarity which is simply when consumers recognize a brand. The fact is, a product, service or company can be quite well known, but not highly regarded. Goodwill has to do with customers having a favorable impression or attitude toward a brand. For example, if your target audience has heard of the compliance software you offer, that is brand familiarity. If they have a positive impression of your product or acknowledge preferring it over your competition, that is goodwill.
- How well advertising/promotional activities reflect brand values: Even a well-constructed brand is not immune to poor execution when it comes to advertising strategy. Brand managers are charged with having to manage advertising and promotional expenditures, while accurately portraying their brand’s identity and communicating it to consumers effectively. Conversely, consumers can choose to buy a brand or not, depending on if and how well they relate to it. Nike, for example, has seemingly mastered portraying their values in advertising. Their advertising and promotional efforts have turned millions of consumers world-wide into brand believers.
Quantifying the size of the asset that a brand represents is an important exercise. But, it is even more important to identify and research those things that can increase your brand’s value. By developing a greater understanding of these seven elements and how they are impacting the strength of your brand, you will be better positioned to successfully manage your brand’s value. And brands, as with any other business asset, need to be managed well in order to perform well.