Holvi Blog for Makers and Doers

How to build a fintech brand from scratch (1/3)

Business tips, Business banking · 15/10/15 13:39 · Elina Räsänen

Hello Maker and Doer! Nice to see you here. As you’ve found your way to our blog, you probably already know something about Holvi. In case you don’t, Holvi is banking built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It really is that simple. In this blog post, we’ll try to explain some useful fintech brand building lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Holvi means “vault” in Finnish and it expresses our highest priority: security. We are fintech built in the Nordics, a company started by entrepreneurs who couldn’t find a well suited banking solution to help us grow our businesses. We have a weak spot for technology, design and art. We are active on social media and we trust our peers to give us the best recommendations. We decided to make that the focal point of our brand. Why? Well, after going through a number of brand building guides we figured that our story is what best represents us. We don’t need to build anything, we just need to tell our story to as many people as are willing to listen! And so we did.

What is brand building to us?

What we’ve learned along the way is that brand is nothing distant you can create out of the void of branding thoughts but it is a mere reflection of who you are. As much as we love all things digital our prime value has always been human first, not digital. But who would have ever guessed that one day banking would be hot? We didn’t at least. Over the past year fintech has become such a burning topic that there was a lot of steam to take care of!

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So what did we do to get to the radar of everyone we needed to?   

  • Differentiation. From old traditional banks, alternative financial institutions and rocketing fintechs. We were always ambitious yet realistic, our intention was never to downsize anyone but to lift them up along the way. We’ve never been on a mission to destroy banks, we’ve always manifested our most important mission: the customer value we want to bring. We didn’t only read it in management literature books, we also learned it the hard way. It takes time to learn to communicate value in a way that your audience understands why you are different and why they should care. That’s why it’s an everyday exercise.
  • Simplicity. We are a technology company and boy do we love to talk about our features, infrastructure and Amazon Web Services. But there’s this saying. If you can’t explain your grandmother what you are doing, you are doing it all wrong. And this goes especially for fintech. If you can’t explain the value your service brings in a short conversation over coffee, your messaging is just not there yet. Trust us, you’ll know when you start getting it right. All of a sudden people just start getting the awesome things you are doing, there is no better feeling than that.
  • Create awareness. Yes, this one is quite self-evident and you’ve probably heard it a couple of times before. However, it’s actually easier said than done. It takes a bit more than just creating content on Facebook or doing advertising on any social media platform to rise beyond the noise and make a difference.  We’ll get there next.
  • Build a community and use the power of the people. Awareness and appreciation are linked by one powerful chemical: dopamine. Let’s face it, you need people to help you spread the word. When people like your product and the service you are offering, awareness will turn into appreciation and this appreciation will allow you to build  successful customer relations. For us, it has been the prime driver of brand building: transforming your brand into happily recurring paying customers. We’ve focused our efforts on creating a supportive community in which people are helping each other and fostering exchange.  And how you do that? By enhancing virality.

The Illusion of virality

There is a lot of discussion on how to ideally approach the market to eventually crack the toughest nut: get sustainable high paced organic growth with a low budget. Viral marketing is based on a great, uniquely creative idea and word of mouth. It does not mean throwing amount € x at your social media channels and hoping that it will automatically spread. Everyone who has their hands dirty doing marketing knows that nothing happens unless you invest time and effort to make real improvements to your communication, messaging and community interactions — each and every day. And nothing works until you have it validated, whatever your KPI’s are.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 13.26.19The good news? With enough perseverance and practice you will figure out how to slowly find your road to sustainable organic growth.

Brand building in a nutshell

What we’ve learned along the way is that all processes within your company have to reflect these pillars of an integral brand and will eventually heavily influence your company’s culture. Once it is manifested, it is hard to change. That’s why authenticity is key. As long as you are telling something that is real, you really can’t go wrong. When you align all your efforts from marketing messaging to customer support and keynote talks to lunch conversations, your community will grow. And eventually they will help you to grow too.

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We’ve come a long way to find the right mixture of authenticity, contagious content, trust and interaction with our connected Makers and Doers. We do everything we can to respect their goodwill to support us on our journey and try to make ourselves available and familiar for them at all touch points. That is the basis of our brand integrity.

In our next brand building blog post, we’re going to discuss our learnings about marketing assumptions that don’t apply to fintech. Stay tuned and meanwhile let us know what are your best tips for brand building in your industry!

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