Prior to the digital revolution, the visual brand of a company was limited to physical, printed materials – brochures, business cards, print ads and the occasional tradeshow booth. The rise of the internet, big data and mobile devices changed all that, creating a revolution that completely transformed how companies face the public. From personalized website experiences to highly strategic email campaigns to the emergence of social media, the interactions between a brand and its audience have rapidly become much more experiential, interactive and immersive.
In today’s B2B financial technology landscape, every established firm knows how to conduct due diligence on a company it wants to invest in or make a purchase from. One of the first touchpoints in that process is the company’s website. Is it well-designed? Well-written? Easy to navigate? Even just a cursory scan can create a strong first impression, which can ultimately impact the final decision to engage or look elsewhere.
Today, driving quality traffic to a website or LinkedIn page is one of the most important goals of any marketing program. Companies are eager to dive into the nitty gritty and fuel demand for their products and services – but without the right foundation in place, these efforts will fall flat. That means that as we move further into this prolonged era of digital evolution, investing in a strong brand identity has become more valuable than ever.
Heat vs. Pressure
The concept of branding is far older than its role in fintech marcomms. As far back as 2000 BC, farmers would symbolize ownership by using hot irons to imprint symbols on their livestock. The iron would first be heated with a flame, then immediately pressed into the animal with enough pressure to leave a permanent mark.
Now think of the work that goes into developing a company’s brand. These foundational steps – identifying a set of key messages, choosing a color palette, creating a logo, building branded sales collateral – are the “heat” that must be built up before the iron is applied. Without it, the symbol – or in this case, the company’s story – will not make a mark deep enough to leave a lasting impression. But with enough of this heat, marketing efforts designed to generate direct client demand (aka “pressure”) – LinkedIn ad buys, SEO projects, email marketing campaigns – will “burn” into the minds of your target audience, supported by the solid brand foundation you’ve laid.
Playing the Long Game
Companies often hesitate to invest in their key messaging and positioning, assuming that this type of branding work is inconsequential when it comes to revenue generation. Because they seek instant results, they believe that creating a sense of urgency around a specific product or offering is the best path to growth, even if it’s only a short-term approach. For this reason, many businesses jump to spend on demand marketing programs before their brand is solidified, which often leads to lackluster performance and wasted budget. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, frustration with the inability to see the short-term impact is the No. 1 barrier to brand building.
To thrive in today’s dynamic fintech marketing landscape, firms must leave behind this either-or approach. The restrictive dichotomy of “brand vs. demand” marketing is outdated and limiting – successfully getting a company’s message across requires an intentional and strategic approach to both. This more holistic way of conceptualizing marketing – from brand to demand – will put any team on a path to telling a cohesive brand story that gives clients and prospects a sense of not only what products are being sold, but who the company is, what it stands for and why it matters.
With a clear identity established, getting an audience to take notice and reach out for more information becomes a much smoother process. As a marketing and communications agency, we advise all our clients to play “the long game,” invest in their brands at the very start of their engagement and let everything else follow from there.
Consistency Is Key: The Brand to Demand Journey
We’re not just theorizing here. Our many client success stories are a good illustration of the power of this measured, integrated approach to both brand and demand marketing.
Sure enough, the process often begins with a brand build, working closely with the client’s leadership team to establish key messages. These become our blueprint (or “source code”) for our website design, copywriting and sales collateral, all of which are incorporated into the new brand launch. Following that, with the newly defined brand in place, we transition to demand-focused tactics, leveraging the visual brand and key messages as a foundation to inform a long-term marketing strategy that involves our three practice areas (Content, Digital Marketing and Media Relations).
As part of a fully integrated marcomms program, our various teams tackle everything from penning thought leadership blogs and running social media profiles to drafting award submissions, executing email sends via HubSpot and landing our clients media placements with influential publications. It is crucial that all elements of the program reinforce a consistent message across all verticals while driving tangible results – nothing raises doubt in the mind of a consumer more than an inconsistent brand.
Building on the Foundation
Through an interdisciplinary, holistic and multi-phased approach to marketing and communications, B2B fintechs can achieve both the tangible and intangible business results they seek. On the quantifiable end, they’ll see a boost in their site rankings, webpage visits and social following. On the less concrete side, they will enjoy increased recognition across the industry, from being sought out by event organizers to spending less time introducing their company on sales calls.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to establishing a successful fintech brand. The reality is that, when operating within a highly competitive landscape, sustained growth requires continuous effort, adaptation and staying abreast of industry trends. With the long-term partnership and support of a highly specialized marcomms agency, firms can get a leg up. By investing in strong foundational brand work, they gain the unmatched ability to optimize their digital presence and establish themselves as trusted leaders at the cutting edge of the ever-evolving fintech landscape.