Posts

Your Brand Matters

What you stand for is important. Relationships in the mortgage industry matter a lot. Often technology decisions, for example, are made based on who else is using that same technology.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
For this reason a lot of mortgage technology vendors are reluctant to tinker with their brand, but I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong approach. In the article entitled “The Importance of Updating your Brand” by Chirag Thumar, he defines a brand as “what your consumers perceive of your company. The idea or feeling that they associate with your company is the brand of your business. If you ask your clients of what comes to their mind when your business is mentioned and they respond consistently with an emotion or perception, which is your brand.”

Your company’s brand plays a vital role in the workings of its business, as it helps create an impression, evokes curiosity about the company and its business, and gives out an essence of quality and professionalism.

Why should you update your brand?

Featured Sponsors:

 
Brand image is crucial in communicating properly with your target clients the goodwill of your business and to assure certain levels of expectation. Even if your business has an established brand, it needs to evolve as the business itself changes. Re-branding and refreshing your company’s appearance is crucial to keep it relevant to your old clients as well as to attract new ones. There are many reasons why to do so, such as:

>>To reflect internal changes

>>Business growth: As a business expands, the brand needs to extend itself to appeal to the increasing mass of consumers that the company is trying to interact with.

>>Globalization: When a company expands its products and services to the international market, the brand name has to evolve to be represented constantly in all the countries.

Featured Sponsors:

 
The biggest of the international brands like Google, eBay, Apple, Coca-Cola update their brands frequently to cater to their expanding business strategies.

When is it time to update your brand?

Re-branding your company is a decision that should be made after a systematic analysis of the response pattern of your consumers. There are certain signals that your brand needs an update, which you need to look out for, like-

>>If your brand is being associated with negative feelings

>>If your brand is out of sync with your business identity

>>If your brand is not making your business stand out

How do you get your brand updated?

A refresh comes in many forms and it is important to have an understanding of your clients’ attitudes to opt for the most suitable re-branding for your business. The options include:

>>Getting a logo: If your business doesn’t have a logo, consider getting one developed. Or if your company has had the same logo for a long time, consider getting it changed. A case in point is the company Starbucks, which has become a very easily recognizable brand with its much simplified logo.

>>Changing the company’s name: For a business to appeal to the popular mass, the company needs a name that is easily accepted and recognized by its large variety of consumers. For example, the digital giant Google was once known as “Back Rub”.

>>Releasing a new product that has gained relevance among the consumers.

>>Changing the way of advertising: It is essential to advertise your company the right way and by right way, what is meant is the way your target audience will find your product or service the most appealing. It is equally important for the advertising strategies to be relevant to both your business identify as well as time.

And most companies can’t do this alone, which is where partners like NexLevel Advisors come in. NexLevel Advisors marketing services helps its clients strategically market products and services whose complicated selling propositions or complex technical offerings require the communication of highly specialized information to elevate results. We offer world-class expertise and marketing insight to deliver dynamic marketing strategies and campaigns that will truly take your organization to the next level.

So, don’t be afraid to change your brand to meet today’s mortgage industry needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help in making sure that you do it right.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

The Geography Element Of Branding

Marketers and branding experts in the mortgage space take good care to think about various elements of their brands: What feelings do the colors evoke? What are people’s reactions to the logo? What are the brand values?

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Another important aspect of branding is the “where,” according to an infographic produced by B2B product-comparison site Market Inspector.

Featured Sponsors:

 
The term used in the infographic is “geographic entanglement,” and we’re all familiar with this concept, even if we don’t think about it frequently. For example, Volkswagen deliberately uses German in its international slogans to maintain the “country of origin” effect, which can strongly influence buying decisions, the infographic says.

Featured Sponsors:

 
It goes on to explain that geographic entanglement matters to brands for various reasons, such as the idea that “positive geographic associations can be a long-term competitive advantage that is hard to imitate.”

Here’s how geography impacts branding:

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

You Can Do Better

website-pdf-download

What’s in a brand? A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company who owns the idea or image. Branding is when that idea or image is marketed so that it is recognizable by more and more people, and identified with a certain service or product when there are many other companies offering the same service or product.

Marketing professionals work on branding not only to build brand recognition, but also to build good reputations and a set of standards to which the company should strive to maintain or surpass. Branding is an important part of Internet commerce, as branding allows companies to build their reputations as well as expand beyond the original product and service, and adds to the revenue generated by the original brand.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
When working on branding, or building a brand, companies that are using web pages and search engine optimization have a few details to work out before being able to build a successful brand. Coordinating domain names and brand names are an important part of finding and keeping visitors and clients, as well as branding a new company. Coordination of a domain name and brand names lends identification to the idea or image of a specific product or service, which in turn lets visitors easily discovery the new brand.

Branding is also a way to build an important company asset, which is a good reputation. Whether a company has no reputation, or a less than stellar reputation, branding can help change that. Branding can build an expectation about the company services or products, and can encourage the company to maintain that expectation, or exceed them, bringing better products and services to the market place.

150-quote

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Thanks to the Internet, your potential customers are being flooded with dozens — if not hundreds — of different buying opportunities every hour.

For your company’s branding to really work, it will need to be more than just a name.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
In the article entitled “6 Tips to Building a Stronger Brand Using New Media,” written by Margaret Garvin, she emphasizes that branding has always been important, but it’s never been as essential as it is now. Thanks to the Internet, your potential customers are being flooded with dozens — if not hundreds — of different buying opportunities every hour.

While quality, cost and execution will all play a role in a customer’s decision, trust remains the key way to win the sale. Branding is one of the most important things you can do to win trust, so it’s important you do it right.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Here are simple tips for marketing your brand with new media.

Spend Moments On Execution, But Months In Prep.

For your company’s branding to really work, it will need to be more than just a name. A logo, tag line, tone of approach and color scheme can be important.

Consistency in these choices is just as important as the choices themselves. A decision to change any element of your business brand can undermine a lot of hard work, so be willing to take your time — months, if needed — to decide exactly how you want to present your brand.

150-quote

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

If you’re not consistent from site to site, customers won’t recognize your brand, won’t build trust, and your efforts will end up fairly impotent.

Branding is a constant effort that gets reinforced with every move you make, and doing so carefully is just one more aspect of “smart business.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Actionable tip: Consider creating a comprehensive brand uniformity guide where your branding elements will be standardized.

Monitor Your Brand-Related Queries.

Whatever people are searching about your brand on Google indicates what they think about it and, importantly, what problems they have. Moreover, if too many people are searching [your-brand-name scam], this phrase will show up in Google Auto-suggest results as others.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Monitoring what people are searching and where your own site ranks for different search phrases is crucial. You can use various keyword research tools in combination with keyword position monitoring software.

Kiss Still Applies.

The famous battle cry of “keep it simple stupid” is thoroughly embedded in the jargon of every salesman. This lesson doesn’t start and end on the sales call, though. Simplicity has been shown to be more effective in branding efforts as well, especially since it makes your company more memorable.

Get Into Social Media and Interactive Content.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Ello . . . I could go on for hours. There are tons of social media sites, and people age 18 to 34 actually spend more time on these sites than they do watching TV.

Obviously, you need to get your company onto these sites; however, your work won’t end there. You need to post regularly, add valuable content and use as much interactivity as you can by putting out videos, interactive presentations, editable infographics, and so forth. Rich interactive designs have been the hottest trend for a few years now.

For instance, Target successfully reached out to college students with their “Made for U College Styler” and ServiceNow captured the attention of their target audience with an interactive quiz.

Interactivity doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Smartketer claims that something as simple as animating your banners can significantly improve your campaign performance.

Be Consistent With Your Branding.

Whatever the details of your company, you need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick. Did you catch that? You need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick.

If you’re not consistent from site to site, customers won’t recognize your brand, won’t build trust, and your efforts will end up fairly impotent. So, keep in mind: You need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick.

Brand consistency requires scalable team collaboration. Make sure you have tools in place for your whole company to be aware of your branding efforts.

When In Doubt, Hire Out.

How much is a good-looking logo worth to your company? What about the creation of the right tag line or company motto?

If you’re not sure you can come up with something really solid on your own, then employing a copywriter, graphic designer and brand strategist is a very wise move.

Branding is a constant effort that gets reinforced with every move you make, and doing so carefully is just one more aspect of “smart business.”

By being consistent, memorable, and just a little bit omnipresent, you can build a brand that separates you from your many, many competitors.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Here’s How You Should Brand Your Company In 2017

Planning your digital marketing efforts for the coming year? Digital marketing and branding agency Borenstein Group offers some advice about the top trends it anticipates for 2017.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
“It’s time to re-evaluate and rebalance the digital approach for your company,” writes Gal Borenstein in his introduction to an infographic that lays out those trends.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Among his pointers: “Cognitive insights derived from advanced analytics will help marketers better understand and predict digital behavior.”

Featured Sponsors:

 
Also, as mobile comes to dominate search, GPS-based SEO will overtake keywords, he foresees.

For much more on what’s might be right around the corner for digital marketing, check out the infographic:

top-digital-marketing-trends-2017-borenstein

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Changing With The Times

website-pdf-download

Let’s face it, the mortgage and lending industry is changing. So, everyone in the industry that wants to be successful has to change, as well. It just has to happen. So, where does that change start? Several vendors are changing their brand identity to reflect the evolving nature of our industry.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
For example, one month after being recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the country, Land Gorilla has launched a new brand identity designed to carry its mission of making construction lending safe for all stakeholders far into the future.

Featured Sponsors:

 
The new brand was unveiled Sept. 26, 2016, linking the idea of a gorilla’s natural strength and solidity to the business that has quickly made a name for itself as a foundation for successful construction projects through safe, reliable lending practices.

Featured Sponsors:

 
While gorillas are often portrayed as majestic and solitary creatures, their rugged endurance is only possible due to their membership in a tight-knit group known as a troop or a band. Similarly, Land Gorilla knows that while a construction project may seem to stand alone, its transition from idea to plan to physical creation can only happen if a team of people work together in confidence and trust.

“We wanted a brand that is iconic, memorable, trustworthy, and timeless,” said Sean Faries, CEO of Land Gorilla. “If you encounter a gorilla, you know what you’re going to get: dignity, strength, a depth of intelligence, and a fierce devotion to anyone in its circle. Since we already operate on those same principles and with those same characteristics, it’s time that we acknowledged them in our brand identity.”

The re-branding also plays off of the concept that a gorilla is “built to protect,” using its physical, mental, and social resources to safeguard its territory and those who call that area home. From the Land Gorilla angle, the company is built to help protect anyone involved in the construction process by making lending a secure and efficient endeavor. Stakeholders will also have confidence that properly financed projects, once completed, have been built to physically protect the people who will be using them and interacting with them every day.

Land Gorilla’s troop is made up of members who can collectively claim more than 90 years in the business of construction risk management. Not content to use standard practices for projects being built with ever-improving technologies and new business models, the company has pioneered an advanced cloud-based loan management system. The system is well built, uncomplicated, and powerful, just like the king of the jungle.

Available construction-lending software and services include appraisal management, progress inspection, project and builder acceptance reviews, construction underwriting, post-closing administration, and program development.

Land Gorilla ranked 230 out of the United States’ top 500 fastest-growing businesses as reported in August 2016 by Inc. Magazine, posting 1,726-percent growth. The company is headquartered in San Luis Obispo on California’s beautiful Central Coast. For more information, call Land Gorilla at 1-855-887-3800 or visit landgorilla.com.

Similarly, LoanScorecard, a provider of automated underwriting, compliance and distribution solutions, unveiled its new brand identity and corporate website.

The new brand identity centers on the theme of “Solutions for Intelligent Lending,” the company’s new tagline, and better conveys the evolution and expansion of LoanScorecard’s solution-focused technologies. The new imagery and redesigned website suggest how the company helps its clients grow and features a more intuitive, engaging format that allows lenders and investors to shop for solutions based on their needs.

“Our company and our broad set of product offerings have significantly evolved over the past few years in order to meet the changing needs of our clients,” said Ben Wu, executive director at LoanScorecard. “Today, we offer banks, credit unions, TPOs, wholesalers and investors the solutions they need to not only meet today’s regulatory challenges, but also expand their businesses. We’re excited to have a brand that reflects how our intelligent solutions can help them grow.”

Branding is very important. According to marketing company Deluxe Corp., your brand impacts your business in these key ways:

Branding Improves Recognition

One of major components of your brand is your logo. Think of how we instantly recognize the golden arches of McDonalds or the simple, but powerful eagle of the USPS. As the “face” of a company, logo design is critical because that simple graphic will be on every piece of correspondence and advertising. A professional logo design is simple enough to be memorable, but powerful enough to give the desired impression of your company.

Branding Creates Trust

A professional appearance builds credibility and trust. People are more likely to purchase from a business that appears polished and legitimate. Emotional reactions are hardwired into our brains, and those reactions are very real influencers.

Branding Supports Advertising

Advertising is another component of your brand. Both the medium chosen and demographic targeted for advertisements builds a brand. Too narrow an advertising focus, and a company risks being “pigeon holed” and losing their ability to expand into new markets. Too broad a focus, and the company fails to create a definable impression of the company in the minds of would be customers.

Branding Builds Financial Value

Companies who publicly trade on a stock exchange are valued at many times the actual hard assets of the company. Much of this value is due to the branding of the company. A strong brand usually guarantees future business. Whether a company is in the position to borrow funds for expansion or rolling out to an IPO, being perceived as more valuable will make the process advantageous for the owner of the company. The greater a company’s devotion to build its brand value, the better the financial return from its efforts.

Branding Inspires Employees

Many employees need more than just work— they need something to work toward. When employees understand your mission and reason for being, they are more likely to feel that same pride and work in the same direction to achieve the goals you have set. Having a strong brand is like turning the company logo into a flag the rest of the company can rally around.

Branding Generates New Customers

Branding enables your company to get referral business. Would it be possible for you to tell a friend about the new shoes you love if you couldn’t remember the brand? A large reason ‘brand’ is the word used for this concept is that the goal is an indelible impression. As the most profitable advertising source, word of mouth referrals are only possible in a situation where your company has delivered a memorable experience with your customer.

The most profitable companies, small and large, have a single thing in common. They have established themselves as a leader in their particular industry by building a strong brand.

About The Author

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Getting Recognized Matters

website-pdf-download

How do you stand out? A lot of times companies are envious of the exposure that their competitors get in the media. They want equal or superior coverage. The problem is they don’t always know how to get their message out to the industry. If you push out a lot of press releases and white papers, but nobody sees them or pays attention to them, you are not helping your cause.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
One way to get your content out in a more non-traditional way is to use social media. In the article entitled “7 Tips For Creating Content That Actually Gets Shared” written by Syed Balkhi, co-founder of OptinMonster, he says that as a small business owner, the content you produce may not always get as many shares as you’d like. And while there’s a lot to be gained from search engine optimization, it’s vital that you aren’t creating content for the sole purpose of building links. To maximize value, you have to achieve sharing naturally. Here’s what works best:

Featured Sponsors:

 
The “Why” Behind Shareworthy Content

To grasp the “why” behind shareworthy content, think hard about what the purpose of your website is. In most cases, it is to attract attention, engage users, and convert those users into paying customers. You want your website to garner traffic through organic shares.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Seven Tips for Encouraging Organic Sharing

The reason why some brands don’t create shareworthy content certainly isn’t due to a lack of desire. It’s because they don’t know how. If you fall into this category, pay close attention to the following tips.

1.) Put the reader first.

One of the biggest problems businesses have with creating shareworthy content is rooted in self-centeredness, or a lack of broader awareness. Brands assume their readers are going to be interested in the same topics they are.

For example, an SEO company may learn about a major change in the industry and decide to write an in-depth piece on the technical aspects of Google’s new algorithm. This may be a great topic of conversation for an SEO conference, but will it be of any benefit to the average reader?

Instead, your audience will want to know how such changes are going to affect their website or their overall lending operation. A better piece would be titled, “5 Things Google’s New Algorithm Will Do to Your Search Rankings.”

When you’re preparing new content, consider the reader’s interest level on the topic you’re about to discuss. This should fundamentally change your approach to creating shareworthy content. For example, the new Fannie Mae guidelines that go into practice next year require the adoption of MISMO 3.4. So, you decide to write about MISMO 3.4. That’s great, but why should lenders care about MISMO 3.4? When creating content it’s important to always create content that would benefit your customer’s business.

2.) Focus on the headline.

The problem with your current content strategy may be that you’re playing it too safe. If you’re writing about topics that everyone else is writing about, why would anyone feel compelled to share your content?

You probably need to mix things up a bit. Take the following two titles, for example. Which would you be more likely to share?

>> “How to Haggle for a Used Car”

>> “Here’s Why You Get Ripped Off Every Time You Buy a Car”

Readers will probably be driven to click on the second title since it arouses emotion, while the first one sounds too generic. The actual content of both pieces might say essentially the same thing, but the title makes the second one more shareworthy.

3.) Make a strong first impression.

According to research, the average attention span of an adult human has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8 seconds today. If you’re a marketer, this poses a problem. How can you get people to read your 2,000-word blog post if they can only stay engaged for a few seconds? Most likely, you can’t.

Few people ever make it through an entire piece of content; most will read the opening paragraph, skim, and possibly tune in again on the final paragraph. Since that’s the case, it’s essential for you to make a good first impression in the first two opening sentences.

If you can arouse emotion, shock the readers or otherwise make them feel good, then they’ll be more inclined to share. Treat your first paragraph as if it’s the only paragraph that will be read in your entire article.

4.) Use visuals to complement the content.

Text is going out of style. Technology has created an over-stimulated population that expects striking visuals and gripping videos.

When selecting or creating visuals, the key is to use images and videos that are original, high-quality, and relevant to your topic. Nothing is more frustrating for a reader than seeing stock photos or clip art that’s not related to the issue at hand. This is likely to devalue your content rather than help it.

5.) Hire a content writer.

As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to personally write all the content that represents your brand. You can write a piece on occasion, but you probably have a lot of other responsibilities on your plate.

Hiring a professional content writer to handle this component of your digital marketing strategy is worth every penny. It’ll free up your time while simultaneously allow you to create stellar content that shines. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

6.) Have a dissemination strategy.

Unless you run a massive website with hundreds of thousands of regular visitors, you aren’t going to get the number of shares you want simply by waiting for people to find your content. Instead, you need a dissemination strategy that will serve as the spark.

There are many different strategies for sharing and publishing content. Identify the ones that make sense for your business or industry. At our company, we encourage every employee to share new content from their personal accounts. This automatically puts our content in front of thousands of people who then get a chance to read and share themselves.

It’s also a good idea to develop syndication relationships in order to publish your content in as many places as possible. Including “share” buttons alongside your content will also remind people to do so.

7.) Always try new strategies.

One of the greatest aspects of Internet marketing, social media and content creation is that there’s no single formula for success. What works for one brand may not work for another, and vice versa. If you want to be successful and continually grow, then you must be willing to try new strategies and techniques.

The tips mentioned in this article should serve as a starting point. Use them, see what works and throw out the rest. In the end, your strategy will ultimately depend on what resonates most with your target audience.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

How To Perfect Your Branding

Every few months there’s another super hero movie hitting theaters. So, when I came across the article “Superhero Strategies for Nailing Your Branding” by Kyle Zagrodzky, I was immediately interested to learn more.

The article argues that “branding” is one of those buzzwords that’s used so often, its meaning has become diluted. People love to talk about branding because it’s a moving target and incredibly hard to do well. Great branding reflects the company’s values, product or service, vibe and attitude. Landing on that perfect projection of your business is difficult to achieve.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
If companies were superheroes, branding would be their names and iconic logos. Each symbolizes its hero and tells a story even before you learn the entire origin tale. A hero’s name—Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Captain America—is the first thing you learn. These call signs epitomize heroic identities, clueing you in on what the crusaders do and how they do it. Each symbol is immediately recognizable. Paired with the superhero’s name, it conveys much about the character’s tone, background and style.

That’s solid branding. It’s simple, direct and lightning-fast (just like The Flash). To excel, every business needs that kind of branding.

What defines a great brand?

Brand messaging should be clear, clean and specific. It should project an attitude that illustrates the personality of your product or service, quickly showcasing what you do and what you’re about. It’s the 30- to 60-second elevator pitch condensed to its most basic elements. Your tagline or slogan, logo and colors should use six or fewer words to help people form an accurate picture of who you are. That’s a tall order, made even taller if you’re breaking into an untapped market or introducing a new product.

Featured Sponsors:

 

Plan your brand’s voice before you commit to it.

Building a brand isn’t as easy as popping up a tent. It’s more like laying a foundation. One small crack can lead to major, house-wise structural issues. It’s the same with marketing strategies built on insufficient branding. Your branding must answer a few basic questions: who you are, what you do, whom you serve and why you’re the best. It’s the most stripped-down version of your story, so it’s important to tell it well. Taking off with a cocktail-napkin idea for a logo and never looking back won’t cut it. Instead, thoughtfully develop the heart of that idea so you can move forward confidently.

Acknowledge your message won’t resonate with everyone.

The strongest brands project a personality. Being crystal clear about who you are means you recognize you can’t expect to attract every potential customer. Is your product or service the most elite, accessible, economic, cutting-edge, high-quality, or time-tested? Knowing your target audience is a big part of defining a winning brand. Take time to understand their needs, drivers and desires, and then project an image that shows you offer exactly what they’ve been looking for. Branding is the opposite of being generic. Don’t try to appeal to everyone at the expense of watering down your company’s distinct personality.

Seek help from outside experts.

You’re passionate enough about your business to give it your all, and that level of ownership can give you binocular vision when it comes to building your brand. A trusted, outsourced partner with solid branding experience can save you a lot of time and resources. Qualified external perspectives can cut the most direct path between your big ideas and the finished branding product. Marketing, public relations and consumer perception play in a specialized arena. Teaming with people who have a track record for launching successful brands can remove stress and wasted energy from the equation. It’s crucial to get your branding right the first time, so don’t be afraid to invest upfront and bring in an expert.

Once you define your brand, stick to it.

There always will be someone with an idea about how to make your branding better. Constructive feedback can elevate your business, but it’s important to stay true to the baseline expressions of your brand. Branding is a key element in a delicate marketing ecosystem. The smallest tweaks can upset the balance you worked so hard to achieve. Rebranding is expensive and can confuse customers. Once you’ve chosen your core messaging, logos, and other key touch points, don’t mess with them unless it’s absolutely necessary. Deciding you should have picked ketchup red instead of mustard yellow or added an extra swoosh to your logo doesn’t meet the test. Once a brand is set, any and all decisions about changing it must be taken seriously.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Protect Your Brand

website-pdf-download

TME-MHammondWhat do people in the mortgage industry think of when they say your company name or your product name? Is it good? Is it distinct? It better be if you want to succeed and thrive in this mortgage market. Your brand matters.

Blake Morgan put it this way in her article entitled “The Purpose Of A Brand Framework:”

She challenges us to “think about NASA. When I say NASA you might think exploration, innovation, ingenuity. NASA means something. It’s not just what NASA does that provides associations—it’s what NASA stands for, what it means. It meant something when we put a man on the moon. It meant something for people who had no participation whatsoever. But they felt part of that excitement—part of that zeitgeist.”

Featured Sponsors:

[huge_it_gallery id=”2″]

In a recent article “Was Peter Drucker Wrong? The Purpose of a Brand,” she showed differing perspectives of the purpose of a brand. Is the purpose of a brand to focus on a small group of valuable customers—grow your relationship with those customers—and create products and services that appeal only to this small group? Or do we create a brand that is tangible for everyone-customers and non-customers alike?

The story of the modern brand is pieced together through leadership decisions made at every step of the decision making process. Some companies today are moving beyond the obvious. They are taking advantage of every opportunity to create a brand. It’s more thoughtful, extensive and complicated than what we’ve seen in the past.

Think about the expanding role of a brand’s customer service operation. Brands today—particularly on social media—are expected to provide engagement and responses to essentially anyone who wants to talk to them online. There’s no way for a brand to immediately know if that person engaging online is a customer or not. It reflects poorly on the brand if they don’t respond. The role of the brand is much bigger than it used to be, perhaps because the unspoken responsibilities of the brand have changed. Largely thanks to the democratization of information and communication channels.

Featured Sponsors:

[huge_it_gallery id=”3″]

In a recent interview, Peter Drucker’s grandson, Nova Spivak, an investor and entrepreneur, said:

“We can now measure how our ambassadors were contributing. They might not purchase—they might spread our culture and message. There are more kinds of stakeholders that contribute to the culture of a brand. There’s a hierarchy—a brand wants to make some sort of transaction. But that is a group of people at the top of a pyramid, and they are resting on layers and layers of people who might not transact such as journalists, celebrities, marketers, fans and others who touched the brand in some way and helped contributed to the culture of that brand. You need to reach a lot more than customers to have customers. It’s more and more not about your customers. Now it’s possible to cultivate all the non-customers that help you ultimately get customers even if they don’t themselves become customers.”

What Drucker’s grandson said is a large piece of the modern brand. It is not only about the obvious. It is not only about your direct customers. The reach of the modern brand is more expansive than that.

A good brand provides unquestionable value, unique experiences and an uncompromising mission.

Unquestionable Value:

You simply cannot compete today unless you provide a better quality product or service. Business is changing. There are too many of the same products and services–there is no room for sameness. Business is changing. The world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the largest accommodation provider owns no real estate (Airbnb), the most popular media owner creates no content (Facebook), the largest telecom operator owns no telecom infrastructure (Skype and WeChat), the world’s largest software vendors don’t write the apps (Apple and Google) and the world’s largest movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix). As you can see sometimes the value is getting out of the way—and being the conduit. In general the rules of value are changing. Shopper behavior has changed. One Fast Company article entitled “Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff” explains it well by looking at how the end of “scarcity” changes our urge to own.

Even in this strange new world, the economic laws of scarcity apply, and they are precisely what’s shifting. To ‘own something’ in the traditional sense is becoming less important because what’s scarce has changed. Ownership just isn’t hard anymore. We can now find and own practically anything we want, at any time, through the unending flea market of the Internet. Because of this, the balance between supply and demand has been altered, and the value has moved elsewhere.

Value is not the same as it used to be because of the economic laws of scarcity are changing. Owning a car or even a house does not have the same value it did after World War II. Today’s idea of value—especially for Millennials—is much different. What consumers deem valuable has changed. It’s not just the sharing economy, it’s decisions about why people of all generations choose to purchase something.

In the same article writer Josh Dykstra of Fast Company also points out,

“Today, a product or service is powerful because of how it connects people to something—or someone—else. It has impact because we can do something worthwhile with it, tell others about it, or have it say something about us.” Something has changed with regard to value. People today buy things not only for their purpose, but what owning says about them.

To Provide Unique Experiences:

The good news about the purpose of a brand is if you go above and beyond on experience, you are already light years ahead of your competition. Most companies don’t take the time to compete on experience. They work very hard on the product, they work very hard to sell you the product, and that is it. The experience falls short once your credit card is swiped. The experience has to hold up on a few different levels, not just the levels that are sensible and convenient for the brand. The product or service must be unique, and if it’s not you must have done the product or service better than anyone else. What does it mean to do it better? It means you must go above and beyond—it’s about creating an incomparable experience for the consumer around the product and service.

To Provide An Uncompromising Mission:

Brands today are not purely in the business of selling product. They also are a member of our global community. It is a popular opinion that companies need to operate with a level of awareness about how they are impacting the planet. The purpose of the brand today is to be a citizen of the world. To improve the lives and surroundings of the customers it serves not purely by selling product, but by the decisions they make every day. Everything about a company—its culture, its environmental footprint, and the way it is viewed by concerned consumers—stems from the leadership practices. The first step for leadership is to establish a clear set of values and mission. The mission and values are only impactful when they are followed with behavior. If the company doesn’t walk the walk, the mission and values hold no weight—and no one will trust this company. If the employees and customers trust the company it is because they do what they say they will do.

About The Author

[author_bio]

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Understanding The News: Vendor Seeks To Break Your Compliance Shackles

*Vendor Seeks To Break Your Compliance Shackles*
**CSi Launches Compliance Resource Center**

***The average mortgage lender is burdened with new rules and regulations all too often. To make life easier for today’s lenders, Compliance Systems Inc. has launched a new website and Compliance Resource Center, or Compliance RC. The Compliance RC is designed to be a source for compliance information, providing the mortgage industry with facts and critical insights on the compliance issues that have the potential to impact your business. Here’s the details:

****CSi’s new website, new branding, and the Compliance RC exemplify the company’s focus on compliantly documenting the financial transactions while mitigating the risk surrounding transactions to reduce resource expenditures, so that the lender can focus on their business and their bottom line.

****“What’s critical is that CSi realized that we are providing value, but we’re not necessarily understood in the market,” pointed out Reid Smeda, Sr., president at CSi. “What CSi offers is so much more than just the docs. CSi is not just a document provider. So, because we have such insight, we are now opening that up and exposing that to the industry through this new offering. The lender can come back to the Compliance Resource Center daily, weekly, monthly, whatever and see what’s new when it comes to new rules and regulations.

****In terms of who in your organization should take advantage of this, advised Mr. Smeda, “For smaller lenders maybe there is a compliance person that should visit the resource center. For larger lenders maybe there is an entire staff. As we see it, the compliance person will visit this resource all the time. But for a CEO, you need to have a pulse of this, too. Is the CEO going to go here daily? Probably not, but the CEO is concerned about risk mitigation.”

****CSi’s compliance professionals are constantly on alert for changes from a variety of sources, including legislation, case law, administrative rules, regulations, and other governing authorities to help mitigate risk surrounding the transactions between you and your customers.

****You can check out the new branding and the Compliance RC at http://www.compliancesystems.com.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries