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Building a Brand Series: What is a Brand?

By February 5, 20213 min read

When we ask financial brands what makes them unique, the answer is often the same: “our people” or “our employees really care.” In an industry that’s as commoditized as banking, products, services, and experiences are comparable, if not identical, to the competitor across the street. Having a good answer to this question is critical to differentiating you from your competition.

This answer comes from your brand.

Creating a strong band can help you avoid the common pitfalls affecting many financial organizations. Many banks and credit unions begin to compete in lose-lose areas, such as rates, to stand out. As the environment changes, margins shrink, and people leave or change positions, it becomes clear that neither rates nor your people are a sustainable, long-term marketing strategy.

One of the many lessons we learned as branches turned remote in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic is your employees won’t always have the ability to be the face of your brand in a digital environment.

What is a brand?

It’s more than your logo, the name of your company, or even your employees. A brand is what your company stands for and believes. It’s delivered in your purpose, vision, and mission. The evolving way you relate and communicate with your customers. It’s who you are, why you exist, and what you aim to accomplish. If your vision and mission are also the same as the competitor across the street, well, it should be obvious that you’re in trouble (review their website now!).

In a recent sit-down chat we had about brand storytelling, our CEO Ben Pankonin stated, “The vision that we have and the impact we want to drive for our community, that’s the brand.”

Pro Tip

To start the conversation of building a brand, crowdsource ideas from your employees and customers. Find out what matters to them and the vision they see for the community.

Why Does Brand Storytelling Matter?

Having a compelling brand story that builds trust and creates an emotional connection is crucial when a customer’s perception is what measures your brand. “When brands build trust, consumers reward them,” Edelman states in their study, “Only One-Third of Consumers Trust Most of the Brands They Buy.” They go onto say, “consumers who trust a brand are more than twice as likely to be the first to buy the brand’s new products.”

In an industry where financial brands are entrusted with managing and securing people’s hard-earned money and protecting their most sensitive information, if your brand isn’t sending a message of trust, reliability, and communicating your values, you’re falling behind the competition. Consumers will simply turn to someone that does.

Pro Tip

To improve your brand marketing, find a brand that you trust and notice how they talk about their story. Is it in the imagery? The copy? What can you take and imitate in your communications?

How to Build Your Brand

Ask yourself, does our brand have a vision and mission unique to us? Do we communicate that mission internally and externally? And can our people, our customers, and our community trust us? If you answer no to any of those questions, 2021 should be the year where you start investing in your brand and begin the process of closing the gap from where you are today and where you need to be in your branding journey.

At Social Assurance, our mission is to help financial brands leave their mark and be remarkable. We are here to help you with every step along the way so you can empower your marketing, ignite your community and enable your sales. Download our brand guide template to help you kick start your brand.

Click the button below and fill out the form to receive the brand guide.

Be sure to check back and continue to follow our branding series to learn more about how you can advance your financial brand in 2021.

Sarah Patrick

Design, branding and bringing creative solutions to our brand and financial partners is what Sarah Patrick is passionate about. She also loves a good crossword puzzle, doing yoga and exploring new coffee shops around town.