In the mortgage industry, especially for lenders, title companies and others who provide more commoditized products and services, we know that differentiation is the key to success. To that point, lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about the “brand story” as a necessary component of your brand in order to drive that differentiation.
This is especially true in the mortgage industry where so much competition exists and differentiating factors between competitive entities can many times be hard to define…even if it’s your own company.
Whether you’re selling mortgage insurance, SaaS, wholesale lending partnerships or you’re a mortgage broker or banker, a great brand story can do wonders to differentiate your brand from that of your competitors. The ability to share your brand story provides further reinforcement of your company as its own unique entity, deserving of being in the final “consideration set” for any prospect.
Let’s start with a definition of what a brand story is. In the simplest of terms, a brand story is an account of the life of your brand which includes:
- The setting: an overview of your culture and marketplace opportunities and challenges
- A plot: identifies why you exist as a brand and what you want to accomplish and how you plan to make a difference with your offering
- The characters: your brand and specific target audience(s)
- Conflict(s): what you help your audience overcome, problems you solve
- A theme: identifies the message you want your audience to take away from your story
A great brand story provides a guide for how a brand interacts with its target audience. Here are a couple of great examples:
Ritz-Carlton hotels has a practice of reviewing stories daily with their staff with regard to what they did to make a guest experience memorable that day. One of these stories caught my eye some time ago as it had received press mentions and had gone viral to some extent. It was the story of a family staying at a Ritz property in Bali. They had brought along with them some food items for their child who had a food allergy. By the time they checked in, the items had gone sour. There were no local establishments where the family could go to replace these particular items. So, an employee at the Ritz reached out to a family member in Singapore where the items could be located. This family member had actually agreed to purchase the items and fly with them to the Ritz property in Bali to deliver them!
A gentleman had a young child who had dreams of receiving an Xbox from Santa on Christmas. Given that they were in short supply at the time, actually acquiring one was quite the task. This gentleman was able to order the Xbox from Amazon and it was delivered within a few days of Christmas. The only problem is that he didn’t know it had been delivered. So the story goes, he looked up the tracking number and checked online and discovered it was dropped off and signed for by a neighbor. The neighbor didn’t know what it was and just placed it at his door. As his heart sank, he contacted Amazon, explained that he lived in a complex where items could easily be stolen and begged for them to send him another, even though he really didn’t have a leg to stand on since they did in fact fulfill the order. Ultimately, Amazon felt satisfied that he wasn’t just trying to get a free Xbox, so they sent him a new one which arrived in a nick of time so it could still be wrapped and put under the tree. The kicker? Amazon didn’t even charge this gentleman for shipping let alone the new Xbox!
There are many similar stories from great brands like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Nordstrom, Disney and the list goes on. Why? Because all great brands have their own stories and personas they’ve worked hard to unearth and develop that guide their business dealings and interactions on a daily basis.
What kind of stories are people sharing about your brand? If people aren’t sharing good stories about your brand and what you’ve done for them, maybe it’s time to step back and develop a story that guides your brand. By doing so, you will humanize your brand, giving your audience something they can emotionally connect with. Remember, people don’t connect with a company, they connect with what a company stands for. It’s not good enough anymore just to exist, do your job and focus on completing transactions…you have to have “fire in your belly,” a passion for what you do and doing great things for your customers and prospects so that they can convey your passion by sharing what you do or have done for them.