There’s a lot to consider when investing in your brand. Whatever you decide, make sure you’ve weighed the pros and cons of all approaches and aren’t signing yourself up for a Fractional Rebrand.
Did you just close a funding round and are now ready to scale? Perhaps you’ve acquired a competitor and need to integrate the brands? Or maybe you recognize that you’ve neglected your brand for too long and need to modernize it?
Regardless of your motivations for rebranding, your next choice – how to do it – will be one of the biggest marketing and communications decisions you make. And the biggest component of that question is whether you try to do this in-house or with a partner.
The most obvious benefit of in-housing is explicit cost savings. But for this to even be an option, you need people on your team who have done a fintech rebrand before, know the industry extremely well and are excellent writers and designers. And of course, they will need to have enough bandwidth to properly staff the project.
Done right, a full rebrand will take hundreds of person-hours. Much of this will be spent herding cats and driving consensus, making it a must that whoever is leading the effort has strong project management skills.
Finally, there’s the work that goes into developing the content and creative concepts. While you and your team no doubt know your business well, it is often difficult for insiders to think about how to message and present their company in creative new ways. An agency can bring fresh thinking, a consistent tone and writing style, and also a track record of having done it many times before.
If you do decide to bring in an agency partner rather than go it alone, there are three primary types of firms to consider: generalist brand agencies, generalist digital agencies or boutique industry specialists.
A generalist brand agency will most likely bring an exceptional level of quality and professionalism, with a team of talented writers, designers, and creatives developing work that is often award-winning. Obviously, the “you get what you pay for” adage will apply, but in addition to preparing yourself for the significant cost of a professional brand agency, you should ask yourself whether your organization is currently able to work the way most of them require.
For instance, the brand agency process often begins with a creative brief, which is a crucial first step that sets the direction for things like tone, messaging, positioning and so on. But developing one correctly requires detailed knowledge of your sector, competitors and clients’ typical buying journey. If the agency partner lacks the capabilities or experience to do this, your team will have to develop it internally.
Another factor to consider is content development. Brand manifestos are often a major content deliverable and are generally great for things like print advertisement campaigns. But if you’re not planning a Super Bowl spot and instead just need basic elements like a succinct one-line description of who you are, talking points and Q&As for client-facing staff, and a boilerplate for your press releases, a brand manifesto generally doesn’t help much and will require a significant refactoring by your team to be useful. Another content consideration is copywriting, especially the granular stuff. Will the agency – even one with financial services experience – be able to write about your products in any significant level of detail? Or will interior product page copy and sales collateral be left to you? That’s definitely a question to ask.
Finally, you should think about how the new brand will be launched once complete. A strategic plan for the new brand’s launch (and execution of it) is imperative, and ideally it should be devised by people with direct client-side experience and who understand all the minutiae that are required to properly introduce a new brand to a capital markets audience.
At the other end of the spectrum are generalist digital agencies, which often bring deep expertise in things like SEO and marketing automation and will almost certainly be a far cheaper option than a generalist brand agency.
The tradeoff, however, is that most likely no messaging or content work will be provided, while the approach to the visual brand will be driven almost solely by highly subjective visual considerations rather than informed by your strategic messaging and positioning. In addition, if you’re a B2B fintech selling primarily to the institutional community, there may not be a need for as significant an SEO-driven approach (which may also make your site larger and more complex than is necessary for your audience) as many digital agencies employ with more consumer-facing brands. Finally, if the digital partner handles only the discrete components of the brand build and subsequent marketing push that will be required, you will likely need to find other agencies to help execute the overall plan (and the planning would likely be left to you). While it can appear on the surface to be cheaper, this “Frankenagency” approach often ends up costing far more once the time required to manage and coordinate with multiple firms is considered.
In our view, fintechs – especially those with limited in-house resources and a product or service offering that requires specialization to understand – are generally best served by a full-service partner that’s equally specialized. Chances are, if you’re on the precipice of scaling or are attempting to smartly manage your growth because you’re already there, you and your team do not have time to get an agency up to speed on the industry or figure out how to get multiple firms who may have different methodologies working well together.
Instead, you need an integrated partner that brings the capabilities, creativity, and intimate knowledge of this industry required to position your firm, develop a professional and differentiated brand and then properly orchestrate its launch. And by that, we mean a full rebrand – not a fractional one.
We’ve put together a checklist of what we think is needed to correctly develop and launch a full rebrand – click here to request a copy. We’ve worked with dozens of B2B fintechs on their brands (see our work here) and know from experience (much of it in-house with firms like yours) how to position, message, write about and most importantly execute on rebrands for in-the-weeds financial firms in a way that will resonate with an institutional audience.
For more information or to set up an call to learn more about our services, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org