By: Scott Seroka
Many companies in the financial industry struggle to differentiate their brands.
The most common, yet historically ineffective strategy to differentiate away from the black hole of commoditization is to simply offer enhanced and/or additional products and services. Although a short-term solution, it is a difficult strategy to sustain. Competitors will quickly copy those products and services and brand them with creative names, neutralizing your short-lived competitive advantage.
On one hand, this scenario creates an ideal buyers’ environment. Competition, coupled with a company’s strong desire to not have its products and services classified as commodities, drives innovation and service delivery while keeping prices and interest rates competitive.
But on the other hand, it’s a perpetuation of a vicious cycle of one-upping the competition for moments in time that few wish to endure, and only a handful can maintain.
The way out of commoditization is through delivering unique and unconventional brand experiences.
If we look to the successes of brands such as Apple, Tesla, and Under Armour, each tells a story of how they were able to swagger away from the world of commoditization by creating brand experiences people fell in love with. And although each of these brands may not be the largest in their respective categories in sales and profitability, all of them found a path to building a base of loyal customers. These customers are more than willing to pay a premium for their products.
For example, in the world of computers, iOS (Apple) may be outsold many times by Windows. But in the personal computing industry, when we think of a powerful brand, we think of Apple first – not Toshiba, HP, Dell, Lenovo or ASUS.
However, not all products and services are as seductive as computers, cars and shoes.
As you are selling mortgage products and services (which isn’t quite as glamorous), you can still differentiate your brand away from commoditization. This is done through a combination of attributes designed to build your reputation, such as:
- to be understood
- to be heard
- a genuine interest in them
- above all ─ to feel important
There are plenty of mortgage companies that have built successful brands around one or two of the above attributes. Notice how none have anything to do with products and/or services – strong brands that change minds and influence decisions are focused on delivering those intangible assets customers value the most. The fact is, people don’t care about your organization’s products and services as long as you are reasonably competitive. People only care about the quality of the relationships they have with you and will pay little if any attention to your tangible weaknesses.
Take advantage of this climate where people have high expectations of brands, yet one where many are far from living up to those expectations. It’s the simplest and most effective way to truly be a leader.
Aiming any lower will keep your company closer to the commodity territory – a dark and dangerous place to be.
If you would like to speak with us about how we may help you build a stronger brand, contact us. Brand development and brand rehabilitation is what we do!