When is it a good time to update your brand?

The mortgage industry is going through a time of immense change. Surely, your company is working to adapt to a “new normal.” As you work through this, at some point you may well take a look at how you position yourself competitively so that you not only survive, but thrive when it comes to obtaining new business. This may mean taking a fresh look at your brand and updating it so that it serves you better and is truly reflective of what differentiates you and “who” you are.

 How do you know when it’s time to take a look at a brand refresh or update?

Here are seven circumstances where an update could be a necessary step…

1)   Have you been part of a merger? If so, some think that just putting your logo on the company you swallowed up and ordering new business cards is all that’s needed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re the purchasing entity whose brand will prevail, you may consider the fact that prior to the merger, you had an established corporate culture. Prepare for this culture to now be disrupted as you absorb another culture into yours. Your new employees…and current employees…will be in a state of confusion, albeit temporary if dealt with in a timely fashion. Cliques will form, “water-cooler” conversation will take hold, certain employees may feel alienated during the process and many will be confused about the role they play and the impact they have on your company…and whether or not they are even needed any longer. Streamlining of processes will begin to take hold, new technologies integrated and all the rest that goes along with a merger. Some, especially within the entity that was absorbed, may resent the process and resent upper management as well for having put them through this experience.

Accordingly, once the dust has settled, it may bode well for you to consider taking a step back and re-evaluating your corporate brand. If confusion, resent and lack of purpose exist among some, this could spread and be communicated through all audience touch-points. Your mortgage loan originators could be on the street complaining about new management, devising plans for an “exit” or inaccurate rumors may develop. If not dealt with expeditiously, it could well cost you some of that brand equity you’ve worked so hard to build over the years.

2)   Can you tell your company apart from the competition? Having knowledge of exactly how you’re different from your competitors, what you stand for and why you exist is great, but does everyone else you work with or for you understand that? If you think they do, then I recommend testing that understanding by conducting an internal and external brand assessment. This is especially important in the mortgage industry where the product offerings are largely commoditized and the extent to which you can differentiate yourself will play a role in obtaining future market share.

If you’ve ever stood in an electronics store, unable to decide between two different brands of television sets with great pictures and similar features and prices, then you know the feeling your customers must have.

3)   Are you attracting the customers you want? If you’re attracting business that you aren’t well equipped to handle because it doesn’t fit your business model, and then find yourself bending the model to accommodate it, your brand is likely taking a hit. Internally, you’re causing brand confusion with your people because they may be confused by what direction you’re taking the company. Externally, your real customer base will be confused by what you stand for as well and wonder if you’re changing your business model. Therefore, your existing brand may be working against you by morphing into something it was not meant to be.

4)   Are you struggling with reviving your business due to bad publicity? There are many reasons, especially as a mortgage lender over the past several years, you could have encountered an undue amount of poor publicity. This publicity may or may not have been deserved, but the fact is that it has negatively affected your business, so something must be done.

Reviving your brand could require a complete overhaul and even a change in management depending on the type and degree of this negative publicity. It could even mean a complete disassociation of your products and services from that brand.

5)   Is the competition eating your lunch? If you’re finding that more and more of the business you used to get is moving towards your competition…or if market share you were hoping to acquire is not being obtained by you, this may be a clear sign that your brand has been moving in the wrong direction or that your competition has a stronger brand than you do. In either case, it would be wise to conduct a competitive brand assessment to determine where your brand stands. If you find confusion exists, then it may well be time to consider a brand update and re-alignment.

If you haven’t done this in a while, or have never done it, the results of the assessment may surprise you. You need to get all the facts in front of you as it could be a matter of survival.

6)   Do you find yourself always competing on price? Clearly, this is not where
you want to be. If you find yourself in perpetual price wars, sure it may make sense to look at how you’re pricing yourself and make sure you’re not priced out of the market. However, if your pricing is competitive, then your target audience is not seeing any value in your company beyond the price.

If you’re a mortgage company, there are many factors for a client to take into consideration that go well beyond the rate you offer, so it could be that your target audience doesn’t understand what truly differentiates you. Now of course, you likely have a circle of reliable business referrers which is great. They know what you stand for. But the further you move outside of that circle, the more important it is to present a very clear message that conveys a brand that people can “connect” with. You can’t determine what that brand will be with external research. If you’re going to make this work, your brand must originate from within your company, not be dictated by your audience.

7)   Do you feel like you just don’t have a brand and everything is disjointed? Maybe your marketing pieces and messages all seem disparate. Or, maybe you feel like your marketing isn’t resonating as well as you’d like, your communications plan doesn’t seem to bring significant results or any number of things that give you a general sense of things not working as well as they could.

If this is the case, the brand you may need to update is a brand that you have never taken control of. You may not realize this, but your brand has likely been hi-jacked by the consumer, LO’s, business referrers and others all communicating potentially different perceptions. Again, a brand assessment may be necessary to determine where your brand stands right now. This allows you to identify where discrepancies exist between different audiences internally and externally and how well the brand in any way matches the intent of the CEO. From there, you can take the next steps to update your brand.

If you feel that you may be in need of a brand update, we’re here to assist you with determining factually whether that is the case. It’s important that this be determined prior to launching a communications effort so as not to drive potential brand confusion even further and make it more difficult to reverse the potential damage.
I hope you found this helpful!