E38: Brand Distillery Part 5 - Implementing a Refreshed Brand

Once you've crafted a refreshed brand message, how do you launch it into the wild? Garrett and Michael will talk about to use your new brand narrative as the the source material for all of your marketing content.

Michael Reynolds Welcome, everybody, to Part 5 of our Brand Distillery series. I am very excited. This is kind of the culmination of the series so far. We're going to have a lot of fun today. Garrett, as always is with us. Hello, Garrett.

Garrett Curry Hi. What's up? What's up?

MR I like to ask you questions right as you take a huge drink of water.

Allison Gibbs He does the same thing to me.

GC [laughs] He's looking at me from the corner of his eye.

MR I swear it's not on purpose.

AG He does the same thing to me.

GC Next time I'm spitting it out.

MR [laughs] Oh, and we have a special guest with us today. Allison --

AG Oh, hi.

MR Allison Gibbs, how are you.

AG I'm good.

MR Oh, wait. You do work here don't you? [laughs]

AG I do. Yes. I am back.

MR Allison has been, for the last week or so, has been working on the theatre production The Cat in the Hat, which my almost-three-year-old loved so much he wanted to go back a second time. That was a good show, right? It all turned out well?

AG Yeah, it was great. It was great.

MR We're glad to have you back though.

AG Thank you.

MR Today, again, the last segment in our Brand Distillery series, Part 5. We're going to start today by reading some actual examples of one-liners that we got from our audience. So last week we talked about how to create a good one-liner, how to bring it all together and create this one-liner statement that reflects who you are, who you're for, and how you help them. We had some really, really good foundational work done there. We're going to share some of this and then jump in to how to actually implement that. I've got, I think, three or four examples here from people that sent in their examples. Some of these are in draft form. They were very careful to say, "Oh we're still a work in progress. Don't judge us." Or whatever. So, actually, I'm going to --

GC I'm going to judge them.

MR Garrett's going to judge them. I'm going to read them off and then Garrett's going to -- he might give a little bit of feedback on some of these, so we'll share these. So first, here's one. This is "We are a non-for-profit cooperative for people who want to achieve financial strength by making the most of their individual opportunity."

GC Okay, I'll say first of all just too many words, definitely. It probably looks good in copy or in part even. But when you shake someone's hand and that comes out of your mouth, that's weird. It might feel uncomfortable for you. It might be uncomfortable for them to hear. I think it's best to try to translate something your composing into something you're comfortable to say. I think the subject matter's good. I would suggest they try to reduce that by a third. I think it is a little confusing at the beginning on the "what." The "what" should be really clear, really easy. I shouldn't have to think about it or interpret it. They call themselves a not-for-profit cooperative. Most people, what the heck are you talking about?

AG Thank you.

GC Right. That sounds illegal, right?

AG Mm-hmm. It does.

GC That's got to be illegal. They're a bank or they're a credit union. They probably need to say that. Or as we said last week, maybe a qualifier on the front of those common words: we're a community bank or we're a federal credit union, something like that. But I think it's a good start, and I think it's completely different than how they're talking, so props to them.

MR Mm-hmm. Nice. Okay. Next: "A team of financial gurus offering services that help underserved Bluegrass-region people have confidence in their money."

GC Ooh. I like that. There's some good, I think, very regional-specific language there talking about Bluegrass-region people. Obviously, this is a Kentucky listener. "Financial gurus," you know, that's really making it casual. Some people aren't really comfortable with that. I think that's more in the eye of the beholder. If the person saying that feels good about that and your team feels good about that, say it all day long. If people feel kind of cheesy and weird and that cheese-o-meter is going, probably need to rear back a little bit. But I think it's fun that people would go overly casual and maybe have to pull back a little bit. So I think it's a great start.

MR There's something I like about the term "guru" there is it -- I'm not sure. It may succeed. I can't really tell yet. But it makes an attempt to set the bank or credit union or the team of experts up as the experts, as the guide in that story --

GC That's true. That's true.

MR -- that we tell where the hero and the guide exist. An example is if you're going to a financial institution, a lot of times you're there to beat them up on rates and shop around and figure out, and they're order-takers because you're just trying to get this thing done --

GC Mm-mmm. That's good.

MR -- and they have kind of attempted to shift it to say Hey, we're financial gurus. We are not hear to talk about rates or products yet. We are here to give you financial advice and here to guide you on the financial journey. So they've established themselves as the guide right out of the gate.

GC Yeah. I think it's smart for them to flex their muscles a little bit, and I think it probably works in that statement.

MR So next: "We are a financial institution that help the people of Marion and Shelby county alleviate daily financial struggles by taking an individualized approach."

GC Okay. I think that was a pretty good direction for them in talking about that pain point up front. We talked about last week, Michael, it would be good if people said we're for people who are sick of or tired of... I think it's a great approach.

MR Fed up with...

GC Yeah. They're trying to do that here. We're a financial institution -- people mistrust institutions. I probably wouldn't use that word. I know categorically all of our listeners are in the financial -- are financial institutions, but I would probably back off from that a little bit. They're geographic on that. They focus on Marion and Shelby county. I think that's good. And they also focus on a more personal approach as they call it an "individualized approach." I would probably switch it out for the common speak and that would be "personal approach."

MR Okay.

GC Yep.

MR Okay. Last one here we're going to share -- there are actually four different examples. I'm going to read the last one because I think you pointed at that one as your favorite.

GC Right. Right.

MR "We are a team of leaders providing the tools and encouragement needed to assist individuals with obtaining their financial goals."

GC I love the encouragement part of that. I love the tools part of that because that means they're arming people and cheering them along. I think that there's maybe a better way they can word some of that. They do position themselves as leaders. I don't think that's really a great idea. I think they should position themselves as the guide. When you position yourself as the leader, you're making yourself the hero of that story. Plus, I still don't know what they are. They could be a consultancy, and consultants are expensive, and maybe it doesn't really come off as something that's approachable. But I think it's a great start. Again, focusing on people's needs.

MR So going -- a couple of thoughts I wanted to ask you about. One is we keep going back to this term of don't get too cute with what you are. You're a bank or a credit union. You're a community bank; you're a regional bank, you're a federal credit union. That's okay to say?

GC Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah, definitely.

MR Okay.

GC Yeah. I don't think people -- think if you're going to get -- if you're going to add to that, make sure it's adding to clarity and not creating confusion at all. Again, the qualifier words at the beginning might be helpful.

MR So the other question I had is -- or I guess an observation -- it seems like the theme of all these that we've shared is they're on the right path, they're really doing a great job of distilling some of this, but the language still seems a little too thick and too -- not jargon-y, but not quite plain-speak enough. Is that what I'm seeing?

GC Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I think -- so I have an 11-year-old son who's pretty smart, and if you say these things to him, if he doesn't understand, you're in trouble. So I think it's good to test this. I'll be honest, I think it's good to test this with children. Or have them write the summary for you. It just adds to that and helps us escape these bad habits we have at writing long copy. So yeah, definitely. But it takes time. It takes time. And I think that it not only takes time in composition, but also testing it and going around and asking people's opinions carefully, I think, in an attempt to help reduce the words and, as you said -- you said that the language is very thick -- thin it out a little bit, so they can hear it, get it, understand it, and engage with you. That's the point.

MR Okay. All right. Let's jump to implementation. Today's -- I guess the theme of today really is how to implement that refreshed brand. So once you have your brand messaging down, you've got the one-liner, maybe you've done some other work around brand as well, how do you launch it into the wild?

GC Yeah. So like a flock of doves, right? [laughs]

MR With big party balloons

GC Yeah, we want to see this happen, and it's a big deal. When we talk about brand, we, as Capital Point Marketing, define brand in a very different way, maybe, than a lot of shops around. We don't focus, necessarily, on what's on your coffee mug. Though that is important. So I will say that as an asterisk in this conversation: even launching a refreshed visual brand is very important too. That does definitely influence people's gut reactions, so I do encourage good design, well-done design, consistent design, systemized design, design that's easy to implement. So now I'm going to take design, put that out of the way, and talk about the good stuff, and that is the messaging, that is the positioning, that is the content of your website, that is your social marketing, stuff you are sending out there that really does matter, things you're sending out there that compel people to respond to you. A logo will not compel people to respond to you. That just persuades people to take you seriously, I think, more than anything, but it's that content that's going to make them respond.

So there's two things that I want to start talking about today and that is your website and maybe a social marketing campaign. I think those are two good spots, great places that your refreshed brand can immediately live and thrive and win the hearts of customers and of members. I want to talk about, first of all, the word "remarkable." I like that word because I think it's funny. You call something remarkable meaning it's so interesting one must remark about it in a positive way. But, actually, it could be a negative way, I suppose, but that would be unremarkable, right? Something is so average or so transparent or so vaporous that it's not even worth remarking upon, even though we say the word unremarkable, which is funny because that's a remark. [laughs] Anyway, my point is, this entire series is designed to help our listeners escape from being just unremarkable, to escape from being just common. The people listening to this podcast probably feel like there might be something broken within their branding or within the implementation of their branding. It's easy just to kind of do something different, but usually we take our cues from what's already being done out there. We talked about being that book on a shelf and we resemble all the other books on that shelf, where, really, the objective is to transcend the books on the shelf, go on an upper shelf and be a different color, be something that people really notice as being apart from what is just common and status quo and just the commodity of things.

So that's our hope, but there's a caveat to that. Being different for the sake of being different is not a good strategy. It really is determining what makes you remarkable, what makes you valuable, what is it about you that can win the hearts of people, why choose you over other people. Going through a very, very deep and intensive, "roll your sleeves up" branding process will help identify the truth behind that. Why you and not other people? Once you discover that, now you have something to talk about, you're whistling the right song facing the right direction. Capitalize on it as much as you can.

Let's go ahead and run a scenario here. You have discovered your brand; everyone's minds are blown on your team. It has inspired you to elaborate upon it within content, within your one-liner, within your entire brand narrative, and probably inspired a change in your color palette and a simplification of your logo. All of that is there, packaged, ready to go. Now it's time to turn to your website. And it's these initial steps that can either doom or completely guarantee the success of how your brand will live out in the world. So I want to talk about web blueprinting for a moment. Allison, I know you do a lot of web blueprinting --

AG I do.

GC -- how important is it, how vital is it, how urgent or death decision is it to go through a web blueprinting process before one designs or builds a website?

AG Oh, I think it's no question; you have to do it. Yes.

GC Okay. What are the components of that process normally?

AG Yeah, so, well, for Capital Point Marketing, it is going through and basically planning the site on paper. So we go through site map, we go through what's on each individual page, we talk about calls to action, we talk about some of the language that should be used on the home page, we talk about modules. We go pretty deep with the detail.

GC It gets the utility of it --

AG Correct.

GC -- right? And you want to make sure this thing works. Those are technical things you need to focus on; there's visuals as well; talk about user journey. All these different -- we don't mean to be really, really jargon-y, but you jump in to something like this, the process determines everything, obviously, and the planning of it. Because websites are a big investment. And we also put a lot of hope that our websites are going to generate leads, that they're going to lead to people applying for loans or applying to be a membership -- applying to be a member of a credit union. So all those things you just described there are essential, and we have to go through those steps. But from a branding point of view, all of those things must be filtered through the perspective of one's brand. This beautiful thing that you have composed, it must be filtered through there.

What I want to talk about is the user journey. What I mean by that is where people's eyes track from up to down, from left to right, the sort of content that they are encountering along the way, the hand-holding of your website that takes them through the story and hopefully brings them to a call to action that they can respond to. So there's a hack that we suggested last week when we talked about the one-liner. Once you compose a one-liner, a really good thing to do is to put that at the very top of your website so that people show up to your website and say to themselves, oh, I'm in the right place, because it's making it very clear what you are, who you're for, and how you help them, and hopefully they're going to look at that and go, oh, that's me; you're taking to me; you're for me. Another little hack that you can do at the top of a website -- because this sets the tone of the whole thing -- is kind of the third part of that one-liner, which is the how you help them. So one example we did last week we talked about Afena Federal Credit Union. How they help people is that they help them overcome their challenges and build an enduring legacy. Here's what I love about the third part of that one-liner: it's not only how you help them, but it becomes an automatic call to action. So put that third part at the top of your home page. Now imagine this: it just says, "Overcome your challenges, build an enduring legacy." That's a call to action. You're talking about outcomes, so it's speaking truth, it's appealing to what people really want. Allow that to set the tone of outcome. Navigating farther down your page, I really like to think about how we can empathetically appeal to what people are actually going through. Because, normally, we jump into products and services immediately, and we call people to action in ways such as Apply now, Contact us today. There is no reason that people are going to act unless they're given a reason to act. So to simply apply or to reach out to you and to put that screaming button there with an exclamation mark isn't necessarily going to compel people to act. If we could only say to them as they discover your page, Hey, we know what it's like to get confused about loans, or we know how frustrating it can be to navigate through the financial world, or we get that people tend to hop from bank to bank -- to say those things up front is going to gain trust and humanize your conversation with that user. So you talk about content, Allison, those are the sorts of things, bullet-point things -- almost a checklist that I look for within a content strategy. Do you agree with that?

AG Yeah, absolutely.

GC Do you have anything to add to that and opportunities to empathize with the user when they visit your site?

AG I mean, I think it's always -- I mean, you've already touched on this a little bit -- I think it's always important to basically make it as simple as possible for our users to take the action that we want them to take without them realizing that we want them to take it --

GC Right. Oh, that's a good way to put it. Absolutely.

AG -- and so we always want them to apply for loans, we want them to do all of this stuff --

GC Of course that's all under there. That's your objective as a financial institution

AG Yes, but we have to make sure that they feel like they're making that decision on their own.

GC Oh, like Inception.

AG Like Inception.

GC [laughs]

AG I have seen that movie.

GC Okay. Good job.

MR You didn't fall asleep in the middle of it?

AG No, has my boyfriend in it.

MR Think she stayed awake? Oh, right, okay. [laughs]

AG Leonardo DiCaprio. Duh.

MR Good old Leo.

AG So yeah, I think that's part of what we do when we go through this process and especially -- I totally agree with making sure that it's all filtered through your brand. That doesn't always -- we don't always have the luxury of having --

GC Yeah.

AG -- a defined brand.

GC Yeah, you're starting from a vacuum, right --

AG Yes.

GC -- or starting from an awful brand, and they just want you to elaborate upon that. It's doomed. It's Apollo 13, man. It's over.

AG It is. I'm actually quite surprised sometimes at how many financial institutions haven't gone through a process like this --

GC Right, right.

AG -- ahead of time.

GC Yep. Here's a couple other statements -- I actually wrote a couple of these things down -- that I think are just worth saying on a website in order to empathize with the visitor. "We know how easy it is not to plan for your future." I mean, that's calling it out; that's a common thing for most people. Or we understand -- Afena actually uses this -- "We understand that bad things happen to good people; we're here to help." What that appeals to is that people are kind of intimidated or afraid, sometimes, of financial institutions. It's like walking into the principal's office, to certain people, that aren't really financially equipped to have that kind of conversation, so I think those are really important things to say throughout. What you said, Allison, you talked about we want people to act; we just don't want them to realize what they're acting upon. Right? Because here's the dichotomy: on a website, any website across any industry for any business, a business has an objective; so does the user. The user's objective has to win because when they come to your website, there's a reason why they came to your website, and they have an objective. If they sense in two seconds that coming to your website is not going to help them meet their objective, they're gone. There's other people they can go talk to; there's a million other websites they can go visit. So even though I think it's important to first start with the objective of the user, you have to find a way where the objective of the user is intersecting with the objective of your financial institution. So even though you want to call them to action, you need to make sure that that action and the steps leading up to it completely align and fulfill the objectives of the user.

Do you agree with that, guys? What do you guys think of that? Do you think that's kind of an epidemic that a lot of financial institutions tend to ignore?

AG I mean, I think so. I think when it comes to using the "apply for a loan" as an example, I either see Apply for a loan or Call this number for more information. There's never an in between --

GC Yeah.

AG -- and I think they mean -- the general feeling that I get is that everybody means well and they're like, "We can give them the best information over the phone" --

GC Right.

AG -- but I think that all it's going to take is one bank or credit union putting all the information out there, and they'll win that customer just because of that simple fact of them having the content available on the site.

GC Yep.

MR Sounds like a good pillar page.

GC Yeah, absolutely. So --

AG May be on my list.

GC Again, as I said before, you call people to action, they have to have a reason to act. And just say Apply today, I just don't think is compelling. I mean, yes, a certain number -- okay, in mass, in scale, a certain percentage of people will click on that, but that's a missed opportunity. What if that percentage was larger just by changing the text a little bit and speaking through the filter of brand. What if, instead of Apply today button, the call to action was Are you ready for peace of mind? Let's get you started today. That's more conversational. You know? Or you can do the assumptive close -- I used to be in telemarking a long time ago, by the way -- the assumptive close --

MR Really?

GC -- oh yeah. The assumptive close. It was my first year of marriage --

MR I did not know that. I know what the assumptive close is, though.

GC -- the best job I could get in that little college town during my first year of marriage was being a telemarketer. But the assumptive close is always like "Okay. So what date do you want to start?" Things like that. There's some assumptive things you can do in there, too, that hopefully you've led them along a journey to where they're already convinced. They know that -- they appreciate that you empathize with them, that you understand them, they also trust that you are an authority and that you actually have the steps and process for their success in achieving their objectives. So just have an assumptive close like "When do you want to start?" And then they click that and fill out some things, whatever it may be -- how that would ever translate into a banking situation.

MR It also allows you to provide better service, in my opinion, because what if the product they're applying for is not the right product for them?

GC Correct.

MR It gives you the chance to be a guide as opposed to an order-taker.

GC Absolutely. That's good. We said that in unison.

MR Did we?

GC That's good.

MR Jinx.

GC What I wanted to throw to you guys, as well, is when you have good ad copy, which -- honestly, that is precisely what your refreshed brand should be able to give you easily -- you should be able to intuitively compose good copy based on a good, solid brand that's not just different, it's accurate, it appeals to what people are actually looking for.

Let's talk about ad copy when it comes to social campaigns and how you can take ad copy and segment that and make sure that it's meeting the right person. If you have a good brand, you've narrow down your demographics to very specific people, appealing to very specific things about them so that when you do call them to action, the likelihood is much higher that they're going to respond. So how do you guys, when you approach social marketing campaigns, how are you able to take ad copy and segment that and test that to make sure that people are accurately responding to that? Because you can have great ad copy, but you don't really know if it's great until you see how much people are responding to it.

MR You looking at me, Allison?

GC Yeah.

MR I'm the Facebook advertising --

AG Tossing it over to you.

MR -- obsessed-over-here person. Yeah, actually, you can measure a lot on social media these days, especially on platforms like Facebook that are very mature. A lot of what we do is we multi-variant test different types of campaigns. So we might test -- one thing we're doing right now is we're doing a video campaign, and we can do a 30-second version of the video versus a 60-second or a 90-second version. And we can test the length of the video, the messaging within the video, the ad copy itself, the images on the ad, all sorts of things. And so from the start, we want the brand messaging to inform the ad copy, first of all --

GC Absolutely.

MR -- we don't want to just say things like bland statements that everyone else is doing. We want the brand messaging to inform what that ad copy is saying to your audience. But then once you get beyond that, yeah, I think it is a really good idea to test variations of, okay, if we use this phrase versus that phrase. Or if we take the message this direction versus that direction and then run it for 30 to 60 to 90 days, which one is getting us a better response.

GC Yeah, what you're pointing out is that the distillery process is still at work even when you launch something out into the wild, whether it is the web copy -- I mean, you can look at the analytics and see what people are responding to and play with the language a little bit, play with the imagery, what you said. But also, within social campaigns, there's just so much to still be learned. And that's why we call this process a distillery process, because there are all these phases. It's distilling upon distilling upon distilling until you're happy with the outcomes. Because a lot of people, as you guys know, are passive when it comes to their website. Oh, we made this big investment, we're really happy because we like the images, let's put it out there. and they kind of walk away from it and they accept the mediocrity of it. Where a website's this living, breathing thing. It does need to be fed and cared for. And to test things and make sure it's optimized is to crucial to its success.

MR That's why HubSpot is so focused on growth-driven design right now. That's basically their label for that type of process is keep testing, keep measuring, keep changing.

GC Always. So I wanted to just conclude with one other touch point. I wanted to talk about print advertising or anything that uses imagery, and that can be on social ads as well. One of our clients had a brochure that they had designed that focused on a -- it was called "secure checking plus." It was, basically, a high-interest-yielding checking account that had some anti-theft features to it. And they handed us the brochure saying, "Can you do something with this?" because it was awful. It had a lot of copy on it, the imagery was not that great, and it just didn't -- you didn't want to read it. So a couple of the things we did was we traded one image for another. The image that they had on the cover of this thing was, obviously, a business man wearing a blazer, you would just see his forearm, and he's on his phone, and he's clicking through. Beautiful, right? Just art. [laughs] And I'm thinking to myself, wow, that's really bland and awful. But let's think about secure checking. Let's think about a high-interest-yielding checking account. You're making money and you have peace of mind. When you talk about the outcomes of your customers, if you have designed that, represent that visually. Is really the outcome them clicking through their smart phone? That's not very exciting. But what does this really look like? Here's what we traded the imagery for. Instead of that business man clicking through his iPhone, we got imagery of a girl on a road trip with her dog. That's what we decided to do instead. We were showing outcomes. So this girl is making money on her checking account, and she had nothing to worry about as she travels across the country using her debit card. And so she's not focused on her phone; she's focused on her dog; she's focused on her truck; she's focused on the road. What is she enjoying? Freedom. That is the outcome. Why does she have freedom? Because she has peace of mind. Why does she have freedom? Because she's making a little more on her checking account as opposed to other checking accounts. That is the promise of that product, and I think that suddenly when you see that kind of imagery on a brochure or on an ad, you're going to be more willing to pick that up because you're going to look at that and say, I want some of that. That is the kind of feeling and lifestyle and moment that I want to have, as well, and that's what that product is promising. So that's -- I think that's a great example of shifting one approach for one that is actually compelling.

MR It is. Well, I'm kind of sad the series is over. It's been great.

GC Let's go get a drink. [laughs]

MR Let's do another five -- let's keep going. So anyway, what I'd like to do now is wrap up by saying hey -- I'd be remiss in saying -- if I didn't share that we do this in person, obviously. So, obviously, this has been a great journey through -- in this five-part series through how to DIY this at home, so to speak, back in your own bank or credit union, maybe with your team, maybe working either in a small team or a large team. Hopefully you've really gone through this process and developed something, at least in draft form, in house that is a starting point. You can maybe take it further and maybe it can really inform everything you're doing from this point on. But also, we do this on a regular basis in person, so if you'd like us to come in and do a brand distillery -- it's a half-day to a full-day workshop depending on a couple factors -- but it's a workshop we come to your location and do for your team and help you unlock this brand messaging. So if you'd like some extra help with that, let us know, and we do this as a customized version for your bank or credit union.

With that, this has been awesome. If you have more examples, send them our way to podcast@capitalpointmarketing.com, and we've love to hear about it. Garrett, any other advice you'd leave our listeners as they go to the next phase in this journey, or maybe they go back and work through more of this and really continue to distill their brand messaging?

GC Yeah, I think it's great that they do start doing this on their own. They need to explore and take the pulse of their own bank or credit union by even going through this. And have some fun with it. But then there's going to come a point, probably, where they get a little stuck, and that's where we come in. We really do want to help people achieve their objectives, and we know that there's a lot of things that stand in their way, and, as Capital Point Marketing, we are in a position, we have the expertise, and we do understand what people are facing, to help you overcome those challenges. So I'm looking forward to having some people reach out to us. We want to answer your questions. We would love to meet with your team and help you break these barriers that most banks and credit unions stay stuck behind.

MR And we want you to not only look different, but better than your competition. And these are the tools to do it. Well, thank you, Garrett. Thank you, Allison.

AG Thank you.

MR Been a pleasure. And thank you, everyone, for being with us. I hope you've enjoyed the series here on Brand Distillery. We will be back with a new topic next week. Until then, have a great day. We'll see you then.