Life is often wild. No matter how well you plot and execute, there are variables you simply can’t control. As in current times, when the world experiences upheaval, only the strong and flexible are left standing. This is why mortgage originators can’t afford to ignore the importance of building a solid brand that creates lasting, positive emotions for your clients and referral partners.
Your brand is the network of roots that keep you grounded so that when the wind howls, you can stand up against an approaching storm. Having a solid brand is a nonnegotiable for loan officers and independent brokers. If you want to build a successful business for the long haul, you need to understand what it takes for your brand to stand the test of time.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about what a brand actually is, so even when originators think they’ve spent years building one, they find themselves in a sea of mood boards, color combinations and logo revisions that don’t quite seem to move the needle. Building an enduring brand means providing real value to your prospects, magnetizing the people you want and repelling the ones you don’t, and developing your confidence.
Building an enduring brand means providing real value to your prospects, magnetizing the people you want and repelling the ones you don’t, and developing your confidence.
Each time you communicate with your audience — whether it’s through a social media post, your website, an email or a phone call — the interaction is going to leave people with specific feelings. These feelings determine audience perception of you and your business.
This is why it’s important to intentionally create a brand based on emotions. There are some questions you should ask yourself in this process: How do I want my brand to feel to my ideal clients? What feelings do I want my ideal clients to have when they think of me or interact with me? What do I want my ideal clients to say about me when talking to their friends?
The answers to these questions set the tone of your brand and create cohesive guidelines for you and your team anytime you’re interacting with prospective borrowers or referral partners. If, for example, a prospect was late for a call and you wanted them to feel supported as though they were part of your inner circle, you wouldn’t greet them this way: “I’ve been waiting for 15 minutes. Where have you been?” That would work against your brand. Rather, you’d start the conversation with this: “Hello. Are you OK? Our call started 15 minutes ago and I want to make sure there wasn’t an emergency.”
Do you see the difference between the two approaches and how they’ll produce two distinct emotional reactions in the prospect? This is why it’s important to know which emotions to consistently cultivate in your prospects while effectively communicating how to make that happen with your team. When you know the effect you want to have, you can reverse engineer your language and content into a repeatable structure that creates consistency and develops trust with prospects.
Imagine yourself at a block-party barbecue with your neighbors. One person likes to tell stories of their adventures around the world. (During their last trip to Egypt, they got lost for two hours on camelback.) Another person does nothing but repeat the latest news stories they’ve heard. Which neighbor do you want to spend time with?
Personality is often confused with bravado, sweeping gestures and booming voices. The truth is, personality emanates from your ability to express thoughts, emotions, fears and desires in a way that makes the other person want to lean in and learn more. This is how originators should differentiate themselves from marketplace competitors.
It does not matter if someone else has the best interest rates or the swankiest reputation in town. Your personality will create a lane that only you can fill. This allows you to become the brand so that prospects are no longer doing business with a loan officer — they’re doing business with you, your voice, your heart, your ideas and your expertise.
With your personality at the forefront of your brand, you’ll be able to take your clients from transaction mentality to transformation mentality. Instead of serving a role in a goal-oriented transaction, you’ll become a central figure in transforming the client’s life. That is power.
The top mistake mortgage originators make in this area is to focus on the things a strong brand creates rather than creating a strong brand. Many originators, for example, focus on website colors and fonts, logos, business cards, slogans and other things that a brand incorporates. The problem is that without a strong foundation of personality and intentional impact, all of the other pieces are simply for show. For these tools to become powerful brand ambassadors, they have to be built from the essence of the brand.
Another common mistake originators make when building their brand is turning inconsiderate behavior or encounters with prospects into take-it-or-leave-it propositions. For instance, you may have approached someone about actions or comments that made you upset, and they responded with something to the effect of, “That’s just who I am. If you don’t like it, go fly a kite.”
Although it’s important to be true to who you are, your brand requires you to think about the feelings of your prospective clients and partners. This piece can calm you and get you in the right frame of mind when you’re having a bad day. The truth is, you’re human and you’re going to have days where you snap at people or say something you shouldn’t. If your brand swings with your moods, you create instability for prospects, so it’s important to balance your personality with the emotions you want to evoke in others.
Yet another mistake is to send out premade newsletters or content from a service that doesn’t tailor messages to you and your brand. When you send out the same message as many other originators, your credibility suddenly disappears (especially if a prospect has seen someone else’s content first). At worst, prospects will think you’re ripping off someone else’s content. At best, it makes you unoriginal and boring. Nowhere on that spectrum will you be able to grow your network or close more deals.
If you’re going to send out content, make it original and consistent with your overall brand. Doing this will help you to create intimate content and your prospects will want to keep the conversation going.
Make sure to connect beyond the sale. Prospects buy into brands that offer appeal in addition to solutions. To entice your ideal clients, let your personality shine.
Originators can implement three simple strategies today to build and strengthen their brand: Bring value, be memorable and connect beyond the sale.
Bringing value to your audience means being unique. If you want your content to stand out and your audience to take notice, start talking about the things that people are consistently surprised to hear about once they work with you. You may be able to use certain analogies to make specific concepts resonate. There likely are things that people think they know but get wrong time and again.
Content of this nature is interesting and stands out because it goes against the grain. It brings true value and makes your audience think in a new way. This sets you up as the trusted adviser that they need to work with.
Being memorable is about your X-factor — that special something that is unique to you. For some people, this may be something physical such as a love for bow ties, having curly hair or being tall. For others, it could be a personality quirk such as making “Star Wars”-related analogies or excelling at solutions whenever a problem is posed. Whatever your X-factor is, capitalize on it. If you’re unsure what makes you memorable, reach out to friends or acquaintances and ask them what comes to mind when they think about you.
Finally, make sure to connect beyond the sale. Prospects buy into brands that offer appeal in addition to solutions. To entice your ideal clients, let your personality shine. Tell stories. Share pictures of your pets. Whatever you do, make sure to not talk about business only — give the audience a glimpse into your life. You don’t have to share every personal detail, but the more personable you are, the more trustworthy you become.
This will make you the best option when your prospects are ready to buy. Not only have you given them value, you’ve built a connection based on trust. That’s what successful brands do. ●