In many financial institutions, the idea of a brand audit, or a rebrand, can feel like a lasso-the-moon project. That it will be too expensive, too time-consuming, and too likely to alienate existing account holders – not to mention that one employee who got the logo tattooed on their arm last year. Really, that holiday party was one for the books.
However, these concerns are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what a brand audit or rebrand process actually entails. Branding makes it sound like something exterior. It's like cattle - something from the outside that gets stuck on an organization. It has to come from within. It has to be real and diffused throughout the organization. That's why it's a brand strategy or brand. It's not branding. At its most essential level, a brand audit or rebrand process are pretty much the same thing, and you should absolutely go through a "rebrand" process even if you never end up changing anything.
WHY GO THROUGH A REBRAND PROCESS?
Because it's an exercise focused on listening, learning, and ensuring that the way you present your financial institution is in line with the values, experiences of, and promises that your organization makes to employees, account holders, and the community.
It's very much the listening first. You can drop creative in from on high, but it doesn't work. Sit down and listen and understand. You have to know yourself and understand your personality and where you are coming from, and then you need to see if your brand is positioning you correctly. Understanding your members and your community and positioning you to them is the goal.
DON'T FOCUS ON THE LOGO (YET)
Say the word “brand” in just about any organization, and you'll probably get a reaction like "oh gosh, you aren't changing the logo, are you?!?" The logo, colors, and style of a brand are the artifacts that are a part of the outcome of a brand audit process, but they aren't the whole process.
Everyone knows about branding, academically. So they look for colors, logos, and font style, but that's not brand. Conversation style, personality, and how that stays consistent and stays interesting – that's what so many financial industry brands just aren't doing.
A truly useful brand process looks at the strategy. You may go in asking for logos and colors and fonts, but where it has to start, to be successful, is with the strategy. After all, you want to do something that gets noticed, but you have to design for the room you're building in, and that starts with knowing what that room looks like today, as well as what the blueprints for the future are aiming for. Here are ten essential steps to perform a successful brand audit according to score.org:
- Know what you’re measuring.
- Assess your external marketing materials.
- Review your business website.
- Review your social media data.
- Survey your customers.
- Survey people in your target demographic who aren’t customers.
- Survey your employees.
- Evaluate your competitors’ brands.
- Review your results.
- Monitor your progress.
Of course, you want to tell people about products and services, but think about what problem you're solving, and come at them with how you solve the problem.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM(S)
The problem with mortgages is not that your “mortgage agent isn't pretty,” the problem is that it's a confusing process. Think about features, benefits and product positioning. Go at it in a way that helps people think about why they would use it, not what it is.
For proof that this kind of strategy works, look no further than the fintech financial institutions are losing transactions to. SoFI doesn't start out with the loans they offer - they focus on what they make possible. Rocket Mortgage doesn't focus on the smiling faces of agents and rates - they focus on making the process quick and understandable. CashApp certainly doesn't get into the minutia of card processing for small businesses – they talk about how simple, fast, and painless they make what is otherwise a pain point.
Each and every one of these decisions have very little to do with the logo and everything to do with the strategy behind the brand. If you’re unsure where to begin with your brand audit, Epicosity Brand Ambassador Nikki Doherty can help you from the first step onward. Connect with her today!