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WLB to Shawbrook – a transformation by


Stephen Johnson, Shawbrook Bank


Our story began with three existing financial businesses – Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank, Link Loans and the lending platform of Commercial First. When we joined together in April 2011 we wanted to create a brand that would reflect our ambitions for the new bank and appeal to our customers, as well as our broker channel. We approached our branding agency, All About Brands, with this brief and the process began. During early discussions about the new brand, a number of shared ambitions were highlighted among


“I am not a fan of rebranding for the sake of it – all too often vanity or a marketing exercise – but when a business is adopting another firm and thereby changing its strategy, its objectives and its culture, then rebranding is a critical component of leaving the past behind and aligning all stakeholders in service of the new future for that business.”


But Fahim Antoniades, group director at Mortgage Centre IFA, says you have to be careful. “Rebranding is usually done when the corporate image has either become stale or attracted negative connotations. It’s important that the rebranding is handled properly otherwise it could be seen as affirmation to consumers that things weren’t right.” In some instances it makes sense to


rename a company as Clifford outlines: particularly after a change of ownership in the case of David Sheppard, managing director at London-based Perception Finance. “We wanted to clean and modernise the image of the firm,” Sheppard explains. “Our previous brand was as a result of being a sister company to another firm and when we


our executive team – we wanted to be specialist, traditional yet modern, considerate and human in our dealings with customers. Listening to and learning from customers and brokers was a vital part of the process for us, and with the agency we looked at the market, speaking to customers and brokers through a series of focus groups. Through this detailed market research a number of running themes were identified. There was a clear public appetite for a bank that does things differently, challenges the industry status quo, and takes a fresh approach to banking.


With this foundation work in place, a number of potential names were developed for the new bank, which led to “Shawbrook Bank”. Once we were settled on our name, our


carried out a buy out from the other shareholders, we opted to also rebrand to create a new feel.” For other brokerages altering their image for clients has more to do with the perception they want to create, leave behind or indeed, the type of client they want to attract. Hugh Wade-Jones, director at Enness Private Clients, decided to overhaul his firm’s brand two years ago from Enness Capital to reflect his growing focus on the high net worth end of the market. “The decision was taken so as to put a minimum loan size of £500,000 in place and purely focus on larger loans which already made up a vast proportion of our business,” he says. “At the higher end the relationship building and understanding of the mechanics of the deals is far more complex and it is impossible to properly service high net worth clients without a complete, undistracted focus. These clients appreciate this and will always seek out a specialist.”


For some a new name can be


reinvigorating. When the past four years have seen mortgage broking change


32 MORTGAGE INTRODUCER FEBRUARY 2012


positioning and core principles, the focus moved onto Shawbrook’s visual identity.


For us, the brand is so much more than a nice looking logo. It’s about making sure our values and ambitions as a bank are reflected in everything that we communicate and do – from our visual identity, our name, the language we use on our website and in our brochures, to the way we deal with our customers and brokers. We knew from the outset that we wanted to stand out from our competitors as a new bank that draws on traditional values of respect and care, of good sense and thoughtful judgement. Having a new brand has been central to helping us communicate our values and goals.


seismically, that line in the sand can help boost confidence as Lea Karasavvas, managing director of Prolific Mortgage Finance, explains.


“Rebranding gave me a renewed passion for my business, an energy and something to be proud of,” he says. “The world evolves and we should evolve with it. Evolution is the reason why we survive, and survival is key to any business in the current climate we find ourselves in. “Northern Rock really had everything going for them in 2011, great product range, headline rates, good underwriting and levels of service. All that was missing was a new brand.” While some brokers have chosen to go the whole hog and revamp their entire image, others suggest a tweak here and there can be as valuable. London & Country recently changed its logo to give clients a clearer understanding of the services it offers. “I think it would be foolish to say that we wouldn’t rebrand as it’s always important to examine whether the old way remains the right way,” says David Hollingworth, head of communications


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