Fintech is the very definition of a disruptive force. From a handful of upstart firms around the turn of the millennium, fintech has grown into a titan—a $180 billion industry, more than doubling in size since 2017 and on track to top $200 billion in 2024. This is an industry that has truly disrupted the way financial institutions and their B2B and B2C clients think about banking and investing.
And yet fintech’s approach to branding is anything but disruptive. Of the nearly 30,000 firms worldwide, many have a similar look and feel and no differentiated brand identity to speak of.
One explanation is that the founders put so much time and energy into perfecting their product that they have little left over for so-called non-core priorities, like branding and marketing. But that mindset can keep a promising product from ever finding its audience. Of course, differentiation in itself isn’t a guarantee. Even a strong brand can fall prey to the whims of the marketplace. But as competition continues to intensify, the brands that will win are those with a compelling, well-crafted story to tell and a distinct voice. But how do you go about shaping a great brand?
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Obsess about your name. Many fintech start-ups have cryptic, all but unpronounceable names. Weird names can work, but in a crowded and competitive marketplace, transparency matters. A name that at least suggests what your product is about makes it easy for your audience to engage with—and remember—it.
- Clearly spell out your value proposition. Whether B2B or B2C, your audiences want to know how you can add value to their lives. How will your product or service make their jobs easier, build their business and enable them to serve their clients better? Expressing why you exist in an authentic way is crucial to creating an enduring brand.
- Break windows. Innovate. Disrupt. Presumably you built your product by flouting convention, getting inside your customers’ heads, and creating something truly different. Now apply that same aptitude for disruption and perceptiveness to your brand. Know exactly what your brand stands for and convey it clearly, truthfully and memorably.
- Cultivate brand presence. Far too many brands recede into the background because they lack presence—that inimitable quality that makes heads turn. It’s more than just a visual vocabulary and tone of voice. Read more about Brand Presence here.
- Assume your audience is global. Technology has made borders less relevant and the world more seamless. Even if you’re targeting a domestic audience, there’s no benefit to building a fence around it. Ensure that your fintech brand can resonate with a diverse, global audience.
- Get emotional. Don’t just hype your product and its amazing features. Tell a story and make your target consumer the hero. This applies equally to B2B and B2C clients: A CEB-Google study found that businesses “may try to make rational buying decisions but are often influenced by gut feelings and emotions … whether consciously or not.”
- Enlist the experts. Building a strong brand isn’t a DIY project. Hire a creative agency or marketing consultancy with experience helping fintechs expand their reach and convey their brand across all communications channels.
You’ve already done the hard part: You’ve built a successful fintech business by flouting convention, getting inside your customers’ heads, and creating something truly different. The next part is no less important and requires a similarly innovative mindset—creating a distinct and resilient brand. While the fintech market is a noisy place, you can stand out. Your success depends on it.