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Brand Storytelling with Social Assurance

January 28, 2021 2:00 pm

Listen to first hand brand development tips from Social Assurance’s visionary and CEO, Ben Pankonin; CMO, Jody Guetter; and Brand and Marketing Manager, Sarah Patrick on how they approached, conceptualized and advanced the Social Assurance brand. In this webinar, we pulled back the creative curtains to inspired financial brands to be Remarkable in 2021.

This webinar dives into brand planning and planning and development tips helping financial brands uncover:

  • Your brand story and why it matters
  • Creating a brand mission and purpose that leaves a mark
  • Understanding branding beyond your logo
  • Creative discovery that leads to brand elements that make an impact
  • Executing a branding process that empowers your brand


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  • Who your brand is
  • Your brand’s voice
  • How your brand is represented visually

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Ben Pankonin 0:36
All right, I think we’re right here ready to go? Well, welcome to social assurance webinar. We are talking today about brand storytelling. And I am really thrilled about this one. We’re going to get to hear from social sciences own Jody gutter. And Sarah Patrick, we’re going to be talking about the history of social insurances brand, we’re going to be talking about a lot about the rebrand. But more than that, we’re going to really use this as a learning opportunity to really talk about the thoughts and processes that go into a brand. And Jody and Sarah, I’m really excited to have you with us today. Thanks for joining us and sharing all of the background of a lot of the work you’ve been working on the last six months.

Jody Guetter 1:38
Absolutely. Well, I get to talk about branding for the next hour with two of my favorite people with a captivated marketing audience. So I’m pretty excited about the opportunity today. So thank you.

Ben Pankonin 1:51
Well, awesome. And you know, you’ve really been, you know, the architect of this brand. And Sarah, you are one of our longest standing employees. You’ve been with us for a long time, you know, from intern to progressing as a lead designer for us. And now our design and marketing manager really helping to architect all things visual for us. So, Sarah, I’m excited to have you with us.

Sarah Patrick 2:19
Yeah, I’m so excited to have this conversation. It’s been a really fun past six months working on this project, and it’s been really excited to see it go out and launch it. And now for us to kind of talk about just these principles of branding that is just really beneficial to so many areas. So I’m excited.

Ben Pankonin 2:40
Awesome. Well, you know, Sarah, as we were talking early on, you shared this quote with me, and I thought it was really profound in the way that we talk about brand. Because we’re, we talk about it as something that has existed, or in our cases existed for a long time. But it’s emerging, it’s not a static thing. brand is not something that’s static, it’s something that emerges. And then every step is, is growing towards that story that you’re wanting to tell. Right? So it’s, it’s something that continues progressing. So I really appreciated that example of how we continue moving forward. And that’s really part of what we want to talk about today. Because, you know, all of us are in different stages with brands. And it’s not something that’s, that’s stuck in this current moment, we always want to be advancing that brand. So that I think this gives us a great opportunity to get to share some of those things. So now, I guess, predating, you know, where we’re at today as a brand is really understanding some of where we’ve been for a long period of time. So when we think about where we started as a brand, you know, sharing with both of you some of the original stories of social insurance being an idea that we had, I was working with some some small community banks, and talking to them about how they were going to transition. And, you know, we knew that there needed to be some software, there needed to be some, some solutions in place to really help them to advance as things became more digital in marketing. And one of the first challenges we had was, Hey, you know, we we have these opportunities to have conversations, but we don’t have a brand. I actually had a name that we’ve been thinking of. But you know, we didn’t even have a logo. So there was actually a weekend where I had booked a meeting for the following week, actually with a fortune 500 company to talk about how we were going to change this industry, the company one that most of you are familiar with it I booked a meeting with Pfizer to share with them what we thought we could change with banks. And I messaged my co founder, and I said, hey, I’ve got a meeting next week, but I don’t have any business cards. And so, literally, that was when you know, the brand really started, right? So I took some time over the weekend with some rudimentary Photoshop skills, and, and made a social insurance logo so that we had some business cards to hand out at the meeting with Pfizer the next week, you know, it’s a funny process. But one of the things we learned really quick was that everybody thought that social media was sort of fake. And I think a lot of you as marketing managers remember that period, where you would sort of talk about something in social media, and people would be like, well, but that’s not those aren’t real people. And so our first tagline was actually this, it was, customers are not virtual. And it was this nod to say that, you know, these are real people, and we want to make connections and build relationships with real people. And so, you see some of our original branding elements, we had sort of a sketchy format nuts sketchy in a bad way. But, you know, most of our format design was, was kind of built around a sketch. Right. And that was, that was part of our style at that point. And, you know, as we got moving along, we were realizing that, you know, if we wanted to accelerate the process of digital adoption, confidence is one of those factors, just like if you were investing in the stock market, you know, right now, and you’re not really sure, or just like, you know, you’re making long term decisions, and you’re not really sure what sort of footing you’re on. Those are hard things to make if you don’t have confidence. And that’s really where we felt like we could play a role in this area, for a lot of, you know, financial brands is this idea of, Hey, we can help provide some confidence in the way that you post to social media and the way that you share advertising materials, all of those sorts of things, we felt like we could kind of iterate on that help really develop some confidence. And really, our products are all designed around helping to market and it was a big step forward for us. And we used this market with confidence for for quite a few years, actually.

In one way or another, we, we changed some things around it. But really, you know, six months ago, as we were really evaluating where we were going to go, we knew that this was going to have to change. It was something that we’d outgrown. It wasn’t who we were anymore, and really felt like it was it was time to make a change. And we started to make Pun intended a remarkable change. And so you know, Jody, I’d love to talk with you a little bit about your thought process and coming in and picking up that torch from there. I can also say with both of you on, it was a lonely time having that weekend creating a brand on Photoshop. And it’s it’s such an exciting thing to me to get to work with professionals who value brands and want to advance it. Yeah.

Jody Guetter 8:34
Thank you. And thank you for sharing that story with us. Obviously, offline and the kind of discovery we’ve had the last kind of six months throughout this process. But, you know, a couple of points I think I want to make to to especially our financial brand clients that are, you know, on the call today, too. I think something that really struck me when Ben was telling me the story, the Pfizer story to what really struck home with me as a bank marketer was, we’ve all been there. That resourcefulness that greediness that tenacity, that new businesses, community banks, in particular really have. And so it was definitely a story that I think that all of us can really resonate with, with how do we just get past, you know, over the finish line, how do we pull together Together the resources to just kind of get the job done. And I think it’s really painted a really nice picture to Ben, over the years that this branding is a transform, transformational process and is a journey It is about rediscovering yourself year after year. And as we’ve grown as an organization and our delivery channels have grown, our software solutions have grown. It’s really evolved into not only recognizing where we’ve been and where we are today, but where do we want to go as a company? And I think that that’s that key kind of quote that Sarah shared earlier as well. is creating a brand that sets you up for future success. And it just becomes this vehicle to help you get closer to your ultimate, you know, brand vision. And so it is a really exciting time. And it was exciting for us too, because it allowed us to kind of strip back the curtains a little bit and really think about, you know, what is our organizational vision? And what are the things that we need to do to help bridge that gap. So we do get closer in achieving that. From a process perspective, what was really unique from my lens was, I was the new kid on the team, you know, I started, you know, mid to late August. And like any new employee to a team, you know, your job is to you know, immerse yourself in the culture is to understand your team, learn about your products and your solutions, get to know your customers. You know, I spent those first couple of months meeting with many, many of our clients as well. And really, that kicked off a lot of just the organic kind of discovery around, you know, who we are today and where we want to be. And I think what was really remarkable, simply, again, pun intended, was that the roar and really uninhibited kind of conversations that we did have internally about understanding where we are today as a brand and as an organization, but really putting it all on the table of where do we want to be and where do we want to go. And I think that that’s a key component to, you know, the branding conversation at any organization that it has to be a much deeper conversation than just what do we want the website to look like, or we want to change fonts on our logo, it is a much more kind of philosophical conversation that needs to take place to really make sure that it is an integrated kind of conversation. And I was just very, it was an opportune time being the new person as well as kind of really thinking through for for strategy in 2022 and beyond. So it was a wonderful experience for me. And I think kind of outside of that initial initial kind of discovery. The next kind of piece was this kind of critical collaboration that took place. So kind of starting off with discovery of vulnerability, conversation, but then that collaborative component that is so key to a creative project, which was of course unique, being again, new person on the team, but as most of you are still doing today are working in a virtual environment too. And so go on was this ability to sit, you know, at the boardroom for many, many days, many, many hours and to whiteboard and to have pitches come in from you know, outside vendors or anything that you may be typical, typically used to at a bank organization. And little probably no back, Sarah and I have actually never met in person. So that was a whole nother kind of challenge. But I think the way that we navigated through that, and created a collaborative and curious and creative environment, it allowed us to really come up with something that we felt incredibly passionate about. And then the next phase of that, you know, execution and scope, part of that kind of process to really understanding and detailing out, what does this project actually look like? It starts at the, you know, visionary level, then that, you know, here’s where we need to go. But when it gets down to execution, really being able to get super granular and understand all of the customer touch points, and then really be able to peel that back and be like, what do we want that to look like from a brand messaging perspective, creative, all the way down to iconography and the details of that. And so it was a robust project, one that I’m sure a lot of people on the line have had some experience with. But again, our goal today is to kind of strip back the curtains a little bit so you can see our approach to things and hopefully we can equip our clients with some tools to be able to manage conversations and projects going forward.

Ben Pankonin 14:32
Well, thank you God. And you know, as we think about this, you know, I want to be really cognizant that, you know, we’re a software and services company, and you’ve done rebrands within your bank environment. I really applaud you on some of the background and branding that that I’ve seen out of your portfolio, but but how would you compare and contrast this projects here, versus, you know what you experienced doing a rebrand inside of a financial brand?

Jody Guetter 15:09
Yeah, great question. I would say the first thing that is probably the most obvious answer would be just at the the pace in which we could go to kind of go through this process and execute this process. And I understand that in the bank environment. A lot of people don’t have a full creative team on staff, which then creates the needle dependency to outsource, you know, an agency or outsource or consultants and things of that nature. But I think the other part to the speed in which we could go was one of I think the debilitating challenges that things that happen at a bank is that there is a lack of creativity and curiosity, which prevents I think, marketing project, like a rebrand to really kind of take flight and grow and morph into, you know, something spectacular. And so I think, a combination of having the skill sets internally, I think the environment that we’ve created here is one of creativity and curiosity, which allowed us to collaborate in a in a virtual environment, which sometimes would be limited in a traditional environment. You know, we really, you know, from start to finish, you know, less than six months, but prior projects I’ve worked on multi years, like they’re in the works for years before you actually get things pushed out live, and you’re looking at, you know, risk management, you’re looking at vendor selection, you’re looking at all of these discovery elements, and a lot of the times these projects also, in the bank environment, are led by what kind of return Are we going to get on this investment, like they’re seeing, you know, the capital investments for potentially a website, redo, you know, they’re looking at vendor selections for looking at ad agencies and things of that nature. And that can be a very drawn out process. But it’s impeded by will this make us money, will this drive revenue for us, which are very difficult things to task, and I think, for our environment, which was very unique, it was about starting with us and our internal purpose and vision. And we looked at it kind of opposite, turned it on its head a little bit where it’s like, if we do these things, it will naturally translate into revenue and growth and customer retention, and a better customer experience versus kind of starting with the return, you know, at the forefront. And so I think that that’s a really big obstacle and cultural change that I hope banks will start to challenge themselves with, which will allow them to move a lot quicker. So I’m Sarah, I kind of wanted to pull you in as well, because you’re the creative genius of the group here. But one of the things that I was really enamored with, throughout this process was your approach to the creative elements. You know, Ben, and I definitely looked at this from an organizational strategy perspective, this long term vision, I’d love to get your take on how you approached the creative process and kind of talk us through some of the things that influenced you and kind of help you determine creative elements of the brand.

Sarah Patrick 18:51
Yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, as Ben mentioned before, I have been working with this brand for a few years now. And so this was just a really exciting opportunity for me to be able to elevate the brand, visually where I’ve been wanting to see it go. But more importantly, like backed by strategy, and that’s like, I just really enjoyed this process and the conversations that we had. And it really started from immersing ourselves into, you know, the history of our brand and kind of allowing ourselves to get real vulnerable with the things that we had been doing and creating up until this point, and a lot of times it was just figuring out, you know, what is worked and what, what hasn’t worked, and then realizing what are the you know, the heroes of our brand and this in the sense of what can we you know, use that is working for us that we can continue to grow and develop and a lot of that just came from those simple, iconic things within our brand of our logo, our mark and I found myself just playing with the lines The curves and you know the color that that red, you know, and allowing it to shine and be just that hero and focal point within our brand. And you know, something I just really learned throughout this whole process is that a lot of times when you’re approaching any sort of project, or especially a rebrand, there’s gonna be a lot of editing that comes in. And a lot of times, it’s going to be the need to remove things from your brand instead of adding to it. And that was something that I really learned throughout this process was, you know, just don’t keep throwing things at your brand to figure out what’s gonna work, figure out what you can take out of your brand in order to make what you have stand out even further. And so, you know, when we started talking about the word, remarkable, that was something that, you know, God was kind of throwing around, and we were kind of tossing back and forth to each other. And something that we really kept as a focal point in everything that we worked on was, is this Reince, like, Can this reinforce itself into the message or the direction that we’re going and this idea of, you know, reinforcement was really powerful, because it helped us show when we had an idea that could take flight, and that was something that had more legs to it, as we would say, and his word remarkable was a was a great example of that. You know, why why remarkable for us, that’s, you know, a word that could be applied to so many different industries or aspects. And when you think about branding, you want it to be specific to what your brand represents. And so the ability to reinforce it into your own messaging is going to help communicate better what your brand is about. And so breaking this word out, it showed us that and it proved to us and, again, like it reinforced that this is the direction that we wanted to go of rethinking your marketing, you know, Mark, leaving your mark, enable enabling your team, these are principles that you know, we operate by at social insurance, and we want our customers to be able to enforce in their brands. And so a little example of that, it just shows like, okay, that’s something that reinforces back into to our brand. And so, you know, having those key conversations and things like that, to find those little tactics and those little strategies to keep moving forward with stemmed a lot of creative direction within this rebrand.

Jody Guetter 22:32
I love you said, you know, a couple of the things that I think were really key through the design that I think made a lot of differences theoretically. And as we went through this process was kind of this restraint with like the design as well, it’s very easy to get very excited about, you know, different creative directions as well. And one of the things that we worked really hard with the brand was how do we take the core of who we are, from a design perspective, but then really mature it and make it more sophisticated and make it everything more intentional. And that required quite a lot of like discipline from your side to write from it from a design perspective. And I remember throwing around and it’s a saying that has stuck with me from my retail years. But there’s a famous saying from like Coco Chanel, who hopefully a lot of you have heard or from a apparel and design perspective, but she has a famous kind of quote around, like, before you leave the house, like take one thing off. And it’s always about like kind of pulling back a little bit and having a little bit of restraint, and really thinking through the intent of all of your elements of your design. And you certainly did an exceptional job of that.

Sarah Patrick 23:50
Absolutely. And I even think like as a financial brand, a lot of these, you know, brands are gonna have 100 years maybe of history within their brand. And that’s a lot of, you know, story, that’s a lot of baggage and maybe design or, you know, purpose behind their brand. And so you’re often not going to be able to kind of reinvent the wheel there, but maybe what what can you pull back, or to bring something else forward into the light. And so, you know, Ben, in your history with working with financial brands, what would you say are additional kind of gaps or roadblocks for them to be able to grow and evolve their brand?

Ben Pankonin 24:33
Yeah, I think I think you made a tremendous point in thinking about a lot of times when we look at our brand, the easiest thing to do is look across the street, and it feels greener to say, hey, there’s something in somebody else’s brand that I wish I could bring into mind. Instead of looking inside your brand and figuring out how you can take something at the core and bring it out You know, I have that tendency as well as someone who, who thinks, you know, forward thinking, I’m thinking, hey, there’s there’s something I see a technology company doing that seems really attractive. And, you know, how could I bring that into my brand. And, and I think maybe there are activities that we really want to pull into our marketing that other people are doing that are great ideas. But I think both of you really, in this process have embraced this idea that, hey, the vision that we have, and the impact we want to drive for our company, is that’s the brand, the things that we’re, you know, aligning with that. There may be some ideas that we pull from outside, but that really at its core, is what starts to give us that longevity, and that ability to, to really guide forward so and so I think really what you’re pointing to and, you know, and the financial brands we work with, a lot of times, that’s what we’re looking for is what what is the thing that really defines you and makes you unique? Let’s highlight that. And let’s bring that to the forefront. We can add tactics, we can add, you know, strategy to those things. But how do we how do we find that really, truly unique thing? That drives us forward? Yeah.

Jody Guetter 26:26
And on that note, too, I think two things, especially as you said, Sir, like these community banks that are potentially so privately owned community banks that are 100 years old, building their footprint for for many, many years. There’s a little bit of intimidate ation, I think, at the bank level when somebody a market that we need to rebrand. There’s a little bit of intimidation there. Because ownership can very easily go like what does that mean? Like, this is who we are. We’re a community bank, we serve agricultural communities, like, we don’t want a different name, we don’t want a different look, we don’t want a different tagline. This is who we are. And there’s this balancing act of knowing who you are, which really, quite frankly, is the first obstacle to come across. Like if there’s an identity crisis in your organization. Like, let’s figure that out first. But if you know who you are, that’s a really great thing. But really being able to build that case of like, how do we take who we are, and the 100 years of history, and then evolve it into where do we want to be in 100 years from now. And then that’s kind of that grand transformation to where you can start to think about, let’s take all of the really great things and more of an evolve that and whether that be through design through messaging, but still be really true to who we are. And that’s a massive brand, you know, kind of messaging and and hopefully, takeaway from today is that authenticity about your brand. And I think that being able to argue that case, with your senior leadership with your bank are going to shift that we’re not taking the train off the tracks and going in a different strategic direction. We know who we are. But these are the things we need to do to get to where we want to be from a branding perspective.

Ben Pankonin 28:20
I love that sort of positioning. And you know, as we talked about what we wanted this tagline and brand to do together, I’d love to dissect a little bit more of the tagline itself, you know, we, we really had to find behind the scenes, more of what our mission was, what our vision was, you know, our mission being to help community financial brands to be the heroes of their community. Right, and helping them to, to really be that. And so as we pull the full tagline together, you know, God, I’d love to, to hear your take on on how we arrived here at this tagline.

Jody Guetter 29:07
Yeah, thank you. Um, well, I’m glad you brought up, you know, the vision and mission kind of purpose. It is somewhat on branding fundamentals, if you will. But I think one of the things that was really a wonderful discovery point for me as we went through this, that it wasn’t about necessarily us. Everything through conversation became about our clients, our community being you know, financial brands, and when you can have a purpose that is, we want out, you know, clients, we want our financial brand, you know, customers to be the heroes of their communities. It really gave us a ton of creativity and flexibility to be like, hey, what does that mean and how are we going to help them get There, right. And it became this kind of aspirational way. When you think about heroes, you think about superheroes, you think about people that are doing exceptional good. You think about people that are remembered and talked about long after they’re gone. They’re people that tell stories about other people. So this heroes kind of purpose really started to lend itself into all of these other avenues of how we can communicate who we are. And then that really started to go into, you know, we want to empower marketing. We want to ignite communities, we want to enable our sales teams and we really felt that being able to have these kind of proven processes with these three kind of core areas of our business, would be able to equip our financial brands to tell their story, to be able to be the heroes of their community. And so all of those types of things combined, rarely lent itself to Okay, heroes are remarkable. They’re doing things above and beyond, it’s very aspirational, I want to be remembered, I want to make a difference, I want to have an impact. They’re doing remarkable things. And then the other part is, as part of our you know, kind of purpose. And our mission as well is we want them to be successful for years to come. We want them to be remembered for years to comment, we don’t want it to be this one and done kind of cool, saying they had a really good marketing campaign or they had a year over year growth or, you know, something like that we’re really looking for organizational advancement, sustainable growth. And so that’s where the leave your mark elements started to really come into play. So what started as just this purpose in this vision of like, we want our clients, our communities, to be the heroes of their communities, through marketing, through sales through community to be remarkable. So that’s an aspirational umbrella to leave their mark. So then that leave your mark is really kind of the period, it’s the, at the end of all of this, they’re going to be remembered, they’re going to be talked about, they’re going to make a difference, and a profound difference within their communities. And so to Sara’s point earlier on to all of these elements through copy, creative tagline, internal messaging, it all just really a ton of synchrony through through everything that really made a ton of sense to us. And to the point to and I think this is the other piece that we talked about was this united ignite kind of concept to have like, when the team kind of were like, yo, like, this is it this is we’re feeling this, we’re amped on this, it was just lightbulb moments. And I think that that’s something too, for the marketers on the line as well, like, knowing when you’re onto something when it resonates emotionally, when it inspires you and inspires other people around you. That’s when you’re getting into the branding. That’s when you’re getting into the branding. And you typically don’t get that from a logo, you get that from this integrated approach these integrated messaging that makes sense internally and externally.

Ben Pankonin 33:28
Yeah, I think you said it well. But it’s, it’s bigger than a logo. It’s something that we point to and repeat over and over again. And we use it to inspire and influence the other parts of our organization. Right. So when we’re rolling out a new feature, when we’re planning something, this is language we’re using internally, when we’re talking about the nonprofit work we’re doing in our communities. These are the types of words we’re using.

Jody Guetter 34:01
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, I think another point to that, too, you know, we’re talking about this emotional kind of trigger, right, as part of your branding, as well. And as we think about conversations with senior leadership, building business cases as well, that’s a very hard thing to kind of articulate, like, I need to have a you know, x dollar budget, so I can rebrand. Right? And so I think that really having these discussions around, who are we and what do we want to be is part of that kickoff and kind of discovery conversation to be able to then lean into building a business case to where people are really bought in about the end goal. You know, I there was a great kind of comment I heard at conference recently too, that like ROI is killing creativity. And so I think that that’s an element of this as well is being able to sell the vision, and and people that understand the vision. And that’s going to be through emotional kind of storytelling versus quantifying straightaway. Okay, if you give me X dollars, we’re going to have x ROI. And so I think that’s a critical component to building business cases around this.

Ben Pankonin 35:27
All right, great point,

Jody Guetter 35:29
Sarah, I’m going to kind of spin to you, because we just kind of talked a little bit about ROI there as well, and budgets and business cases to, you know, brands that I’ve been involved with his data historically, especially on the bank side, typically are, you know, every maybe 10, plus years, sometimes even longer, and they become massive capital investments, like when you think of website redesign. And typically, a lot of bank brands don’t have web developers on staff, so they don’t really have the flexibility to stay on top of new designs and trends, they may have someone maintaining it, but and typically becomes a really large scale projects that happen, you know, years and years and years apart. You and I know and a lot of the things that we’re preaching today to our about this constant state of evolution constantly being in this rebranding mode. And so I’d love it if you could share, you know, some of your, you know, recommendations, best practices, your experiences for those on the line that may have, you know, resource constraints, budget constraints, and maybe some things that they can even start applying on today, even after the webinar?

Sarah Patrick 36:51
Yeah, absolutely, I think it’s so important to emphasize that these, you know, principles that we’re talking about can be applied to a large scale rebranding project, but they can also be applied just as easily to small marketing efforts that you’re trying to push through in your brand. And so, you know, there’s so many opportunities to maximize your brand, and to elevate your brand and the things that you’re doing. And so for some examples that come to mind that I’ve seen, you know, bank marketers financial brands do tremendously is the the areas that they’re involved in their community, whether that be a food drive, or you know, a local charity that they partner with every year, using that as an opportunity to elevate your brand. And so, you know, coming up with a consistent name for that event that ties back into your brand history. Well, there’s, there’s a story that you can tell through the marketing efforts that you’re doing, you know, creating a content series around your employee spotlight, and, you know, highlighting the people at your banks and the things that they’re doing, creating branded images, and messaging and storing around that, you know, thinking of your platforms that you’re on as little windows into your brand that you have control of as a marketer, that you can tell that story that you can make consistent visuals for that you can consistently, you know, put out a cadence of posting and resonant rhythms and things like that. I think internal messaging is huge, as well. And so don’t minimize the things that you can do internally to elevate your brand. You know, when we were kind of having these discussions about, you know, a Bri brand coming and things like that, within social insurance, we really reassured our fellow coworkers that we’re not like, you know, taking a left and going down a whole nother path. It’s just we want to see these different areas of our brand be elevated to the next level. And that took a lot of communication. And it took a lot of reinforcement internally. And there’s so many ways that you can be doing that with your co workers, whether it’s reinforcing that message of you know, why why are we here? Why do we come every day, to how do we communicate to, you know, the people that walk into our branch and things like that. And so, kind of just looking for those small wins, and whatever you’re doing is just one more step to closing the gap, kind of that that quote that we lead with, is it’s you know, maybe you want to be here and you want to emerge to this place. So every step that you can take is going to put you that much closer to it. So be encouraged by that. I you know, I know how it can be a frustrating and overwhelming process of feeling like you want to get somewhere but knowing that good design happens in small wins. And so, you know, something else that Jody and I we constantly quoted back and forth to each other progress over perfection. And that’s going to keep keep the ball moving towards the direction that you’re wanting to go.

Jody Guetter 40:05
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And Ben, like, from your your statements from the CEO suite as well, is there isn’t that the people component the inside out, you know, element of

a brand,

you know, talk to me about, you know, your lens and and how that means what that means to you as the leader of social insurance? And ultimately, you know, the brand advocate, the brand leader in itself?

Ben Pankonin 40:33
Yeah, well, I think one of the things that, that you have to have is you have to have a brand that’s understood, right. So, you know, if you can’t repeat that throughout the organization, then it’s not holding up, right, we need to have that repeated and reinforced. And, you know, that goes to a lot of different elements, when you’re trying to execute a change on those. Sometimes you have old habits, and you both have heard me say, if, if we call it this thing, then you might lose your birthday. Right? Like, like, we have sort of like those internal threats that say, Hey, you know, that, you know, we might be a startup that has, you know, that can move quickly. But we still have baggage, right, we still have things that we used to call it, we used to talk about it in this way. And we don’t want that to be the reinforcement. And every once in a while, you know, catch somebody, we had that happen in a meeting a couple days ago, where somebody said, Oh, I think I just lost my birthday, right? Like, because I said things in that old way. And so I think that’s part of that process, is saying, hey, let’s let’s educate our staff on our new brand. Let’s talk about these steps and key markers that we want to emphasize. And then you know, part of my role is saying, hey, everything about this brand is who I am and who we are, right? So, you know, when I talk about leaving your mark, I’m not just talking about, you know, how social assurance helps with, you know, you know, community involvement, right, like, that’s not just a thing that we do, it’s who we are. It’s not just to who we are as a, as a feature in a software. It’s also who we demonstrate we are. So you know, we have different initiatives, where, you know, we have a group inside of social insurance that’s helping us to figure out new ways to be more and philanthropic as a company. And that can’t all come from me. Because, you know, I’m just one voice in that picture. So, so seeing other people take that, you know, that torch and say, Hey, I think I can help, you know, gather some people to to help serve our community in this way or that way. Those are fantastic ways that we’re, we’re helping to, you know, reinforce that brand itself. So, I think it needs to be known, it needs to be able to be communicated. So everyone inside of our company should be able to say, Well, this is what the, you know, this is what social insurance is about. And this is how we would communicate that I think all of those are really important.

Sarah Patrick 43:28
Jody, with that? What would you say are some critical components for every brand to have just kind of that starting point? Oh, we lost.

Ben Pankonin 43:42
We lost Jody at a critical point. We can, with confidence, say that her internet connection is not remarkable. But, you know, as we kind of think about, you know, Sarah, you and I have worked with this brand for quite a few years now. in advancing this, this mark, and and, you know, the different elements. You know, we’ve we’ve been guilty of some of the things we’ve said that other people should do. Right? We’ve been guilty of sort of pulling in a lot of other elements that may not have been on our brand. And but you know, I think I think we’ve we’ve learned a lot in this process of figuring out how, how do we accelerate this brand new mature it, and then help really reinforce all of it. And what would you say is kind of the biggest aha moment in this whole rebrand process for you?

Sarah Patrick 44:45
Yeah, great question.


I think Never underestimate the amount of strategy and the thought process that you can truly put into every small decision that you make. Be very thoughtful and intentional. And I think the moment I saw those intentional decisions start to kind of click together, that’s when all of a sudden, it just became, I don’t want to use the word easy. It’s not an easy process. But it became clear and it started to really take shape. I think also another aha moment was to start kind of talking about it with a within other people within your brand. And when they started to get it, and started to elaborate on it themselves, that’s when it was, aha moments. For me, I was like, oh, my goodness, okay, this isn’t just, you know, in my head, this isn’t just on paper, you know, kind of being vulnerable with it. Um, you know, we’ve talked a lot about that, Jodi, and I, we would have gut checks, we would call them we’d kind of throw something over, be like, hey, just, you know, what, what’s your initial reaction on this? What’s your thought on that, and just kind of see where it would go from there. And that’s, you know, not easy in a virtual environment, right? As Jodi said, we’ve never been able to sit in the same room together and work on this project. But to kind of have that ability to throw things back and forth, it really helped reinforce and emphasize the things that we were working on. And so all of those together, like I wouldn’t say it was necessarily one big aha moment, and you probably won’t get that in the projects that you’re working on. And that’s okay, it’s those small wins that are going to all of a sudden take shape into something that’s so much bigger than your initial idea, or so much bigger than just one person’s thought or strategy. So, kind of all of those things in one.

Ben Pankonin 46:44
Go, I love that Sarah, and, you know, you pulled together, you know, our extensive brand book, which I know is part of our follow up here. So we’ll be sending out some some guidance, you know, on how to how to set those things up. And you mentioned the details all the way down to, we have supplementary colors, you know, complementary colors, that you’ve branded each one of those with, you know, with the naming schemes that fits into our brand, really wonderfully. But, you know, God, we wanted to get to a little bit of, you know, what are the principles that we take away from from the brand redesign? Can you share with us what your takeaways would be?

Jody Guetter 47:29
Yeah, absolutely.

You know,

so some of the things that we kind of wanted to position for today, as well is kind of looking at things like organizationally, you know, strategically, you know, from especially from a marketing perspective and from design and, you know, a couple of things for from my lens that I think are incredibly important for a branding strategy is it needs to be emotional. You need a brand that creates connectedness, trust, empathy, reliability. And one of the things I think this is really important with as well is, you people right now, especially in the environment that we’re living in, are with COVID people are stressed people are financially strained. Unemployment is at an all time high, people are working remotely, so they’re not having physical connection, which unfortunately, sometimes translates to a lack of emotional connection as well. And they’re turning to brands that they trust. And sorry, it is the brands that through the last 12 months that have outperformed other brands, it’s because they have established brands with an emotional connection to their audience and, and are communicating and communicating a consistent plan when pricing strategies are unsustainable in the banking space, and certainly with the volatility of the markets as well. And even your people assets or your people capital aren’t necessarily a sustainable strategy either. Unfortunately, people retire people move people change jobs and start thinking through what is a sustainable strategy? And where do I need to continue to invest in with my brand, it is around creating that emotional connection. I think your brand needs to be aspirational, and especially when we think about financial services industry as well. aspiration you know, we need to inspire people and your audience and your people being your internal people to want more. We want to be more and we want to create more. Our audience wants to be more financially healthy. They want to be able to make their lives easier. They want to be able to get that dream house, they want to be able to open up their small business and start This sense of aspiration needs to be within your brand, and to be able to tell that story, that you’re the vehicle that can help them achieve those aspirational goals that they have. And lastly, you know, authentic, it is very easy to look to the bank next door, look at another competitor. And think about what we should be doing that we need to talk about that we need the flashy billboard, or whatever it may be. But if it does not authentically reflect who you are, people can see straight through it. And so, really owning who you are, whether you’re that 100 year old bank, or you’re that new neobank that just opened online, know who you are, have a purpose. And find people that have the same purpose that you have, understand that you are you can’t capture 100% market share, you’re not going to be all things to all people, but know who you are, and do it really, really, really well. And then communicate it even better. So being very authentic in who you are, I think is a key piece. And especially I think right now, these community banks and financial brands and credit unions being very disrupted with neobanks, challenger banks and things like that, they are kind of the bright and shiny object or red shiny competitor, if you will, too. And so it’s very easy to want to be them. But let’s figure out how to compete against them by being your authentic self.

Ben Pankonin 51:42
Wonderful takeaways. Sarah, you will walk us through your takeaways.

Sarah Patrick 51:48
Yeah, absolutely. So my biggest three takeaways from branding, design, clarity, through cleanup, consistency through reinforcement and progress over perfection. So I kind of give some examples over the next slide some visual examples of this within our process that we went through. So clarity through cleanup, here’s a little bit of an insight into the process of you know, how do we get where we’re going. And, you know, it gets messy at times, it gets, you know, this is where the editing comes in, right, like dumping everything out, sorting through it and figuring out what works, what isn’t working, and how we can continue to move forward from here. And so it’s okay to kind of roll up your sleeves and do do a little bit of digging. And it’s through that cleanup that you’re going to come out with a really clear, strong brand story. And so that’s why I encourage anybody to start, right that that editing that we talked about, what can you remove instead of necessarily adding to your brand. And then the second thing coming through is consistency through reinforcement. Everybody knows that consistency is so important in their brand repeating that, you know, same consistent message over and over again. But even from a design standpoint. And these are two little examples, I wanted to share that I tried to achieve this within our brand, this idea of this remarkable mark this red line, how can we use it not only you know, within our tagline or within patterns, but also to tie together some of our, you know products and services that we’re doing to emphasize that reinforcement. And so seeing those subtle little uses of even just a line, a color of you know, graphic, whatever that is that you can use in different ways to say the same thing. The remark able was another way to break that out and to reinforce that word yet again, to achieve that consistency. And then the third part, and this is more just, you know, hopefully some encouragement of progress over perfection. This is a picture of a, you know, quote that I had above my desk, the entire rebrand, good design happens in small wins. And I found myself looking up at that multiple times to just keep myself moving forward. And brand guidelines that’s going to be your lifeline in this project. And I think one of the best things that we did was realizing that we were going to approach this rebranded phases. And so it didn’t have to be everything perfect all you know, on launch day, that it was going to be a progress. And even your brand guides, it’s going to be something that is going to continue to evolve. And so you know, what we hope to provide as a takeaway to get you all started on whatever branding project that you’re hoping to tackle is a template ID brand guide that you can follow that will hopefully give you some good starting points, some good questions to think about so that you can start having these conversations internally to help hopefully, you know elevate your brand. So that’s what I got.

Ben Pankonin 54:53
Thank you and thanks for not sharing my early Photoshop designs. You did clean up on your own stuff, it could have been much Messier hair, you know, I had a few, just from an organizational perspective of things that, you know, as we have a vision for how we impact the community. You know, I think that really, in a brand, it should be integrated. everything you’re doing should be integrated to the vision, it needs to align into all areas of the organization. It needs to be repeatable, I’ve talked about this before, but it needs to be something that you can remember and repeat to other people. So in our employee evaluations in our aspects of what we do with the community, you know, everything needs to be able to, to extend with that same sort of communication that gets repeated. And, you know, as we’ve talked about here, it doesn’t always have to be a full rebrand of your company, logo design, all of these things. In fact, our logo, we really didn’t do anything, you know, we didn’t redesign that. You know, this is this is something that could be a campaign, it could be something that, you know, you’re doing with, you know, a quarterly campaign or, or a one off monthly involvement. But all of these principles still apply. And then I think the last area of impact is one of those areas that we always want to be seeing how we’re impacting the community. I remember a startup I was hired at years and years ago, during my interview process, I asked, so what happens if we’re successful? And ultimately, they ended up giving me the job, I took the job, but their answer to that question was, we’re not really sure. But we think we need someone here. With your skill set. Well, what happened was, they didn’t think through that impact, they didn’t have a vision for how’s the community affected. So one of the things we talked about at social assurance is, if if we’re successful, and the community around us doesn’t feel that impact, then we weren’t really successful. And I think being able to measure that vision and communicate that over and over again, allows you those opportunities to really measure impact, to be able to connect all of those elements. So, you know, this has been a wonderful process of of rebranding and reorganizing. You know, both of you any key words to leave with everybody.

Jody Guetter 57:41
Yeah, just to kind of piggyback off your three key takeaways, too, I think a lot of these, and especially going into the new year, isn’t about, you know, a rebrand. It’s about, you know, performance marketing versus brand marketing. And I think, for us helping tell a story that investing in your brand, especially in 2021. But ongoing is going to be a key component to your growth strategy. And when 81% of consumers are saying that they’re making purchasing decisions based on if they trust a brand or not, you know, that is a pretty big business case, to be able to say we need to invest in our brand. And when we know that 5% extra retention, increasing customer retention by 5%, can increase revenue 25 to 95%. Another really powerful data set and branding and investing in your brand is going to help you grow in those two areas, too. And so I hope that people really consider that coming into this year, where they’re thinking about how do I grow in a pandemic? How do I grow in a potential recession? I hope these are some tools and some insights to help you grow.

Sarah Patrick 58:57
Absolutely, and just to piggyback off that, I just encourage you to start somewhere, whatever you’re planning for q2, whether that be you know, some sort of marketing plan or initiative or things like that, just how can you look at it through a different lens of brand storytelling. So now, this is a great conversation, I could go for another hour.

Ben Pankonin 59:17
I appreciate I appreciate, you know, all the work that both of you have done the extreme attention to detail on our brand, and really capturing this vision for, for our company, for our customers for really the community. I think it It allows us to not just be able to communicate about it, but it allows us to get closer to that vision. So thank you both so much. And you know, we’ve got some great follow ups, I think as a result of this webinar, and and we’d love to be involved in those conversations around brand and how to elevate that in 2021.

Jody Guetter 59:59
Thank you, everyone. One Thank you Ben Sarah.

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