Meet the Master B2B Brand Builders
As this one's about branding, I decided to refresh the look of this newsletter. Looks familiar? It is loosely inspired by some of my favourites: the Coda interface, the Sifted and 11:FS newsletters. The content though is still uniquely focused on brand building and marketing in the B2B Fintech and financial space.
👔B2B Branding in Fintech
My guests on The Fintech Files podcast (mini-milestone: we've reached 3,000 views/downloads) are from various areas of Fintech. It's a coincidence that my latest interviewees represent particularly striking, memorable, B2B Fintech brands (or is it a subconscious effect of efficient branding?):
11:FS, Eric Fulwiler (Banking Technology)
Yapily, Matt Cockayne (Open Banking)
Steel Eye, Matt Smith (compliance & data analytics solutions) - the episode will go live next week
I've caught myself saying during the podcast "your brand doesn't look like the typical B2B fintech brand". I'd retract that if possible, it's a bit unfair and inaccurate. Yet, through many other conversations, I observed that branding is a lesser priority in the industry. One frequently observed sign: nobody at the company knows where or if there are default company fonts or colours. That's not the case for the brands mentioned above. Everything they do or publish is carefully branded. The visuals are memorable, but it goes deeper than that.
I'll just pick one example from each.
Let's look at one of the latest 11:FS reports. Banking as a Service displays technical content beautifully. It's easier to browse through the document and leaves a longer-lasting impression.
I've asked Eric about the considerable effort the company is making to build a media for its niche. The resources and time allocated to podcasting and other media-related activity by senior executives (the CEO, David Brear is streaming live daily) are impressive.
They are so successful at branding channels and so committed to building a media for their niche that it's even become a revenue-generating activity.
For Matt Cockayne, the playful and colourful Yapily brand helps to stand out and to engage the customer through their journey in a complex buying process:
Originally our website was more like a developer portal. It was not very engaging for business users. We wanted to stand out from our competition but also from the market. […] They recognize our content whether it’s on our website, Linkedin or a sponsored piece.
Here is a link to a recent Yapily whitepaper:
Finally, Steel Eye is refreshingly sober and going against the hype. If there were one brand that could justify the use of "Big data" and "AI" (NB: these are my words, not Matt Smith's) it would be Steel Eye with their data-centric solutions. Yet, you won't see many buzzwords on their website.
The logo says it all: a strong alloy of iron + an inquisitive eye: not soft, but efficient.
Matt Smith said:
The more our brand is becoming a trusted, known brand in the industry. The easier those conversations are, and we align with some great partners. It does require a lot of work getting our name out there and, educating the market as to why they should believe that we can solve these problems for them.
🕹How the Neo-banks entered the B2B space
There was a lot of news about the trio of Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo as they published their post-pandemic results.
Here is a cool teardown by PwC. It shows an abundance number of products, partnerships and strategic initiatives that can be overwhelming. Yet, someone has managed to summarize their past, present and future in one Tweet:
Ryan Browne @Ryan_Browne_Revolut's 2019 results are out. Losses more than tripled to £106.5m in (2018: £32.9m) despite revenues climbing 180% to £162.7m (2018: £58.2m)... https://t.co/yDxlu5Va6C
I will take a more focused approach. How has their marketing evolved as they entered the SMB space? They have all launched business accounts recently, with some exciting features. My favourite? The tax pot that automatically saves for VAT payments. (I'm still surprised by VAT every quarter, it's only been eight years).
📹They are making testimonial video series with testimonials (of course):
Monzo: Introducing Monzo Business
Top marks for Revolut on the creation of a proper series with a cool name.
Starling's approach of offering something of value (money-saving tips) is the right one. I wrote a few months ago how: "Testimonial" is not a video format.
Monzo's doing an excellent job at maximizing the interview by creating a lot of bite-sized content about specific features or benefits: such as the tax pot.
Aside from the highlights above, it is not very inspiring or informative. To be fair videos are just a part of their campaigns towards businesses. Yet, you could keep the same testimonial idea (= interview clients) but with more significant impact:
Use the Revolut approach to branding a series: catchy name, branding, well-defined style.
Identify content that is useful to the audience (mix of Starling and Monzo) that demonstrates the value of the business account.
🎬How could that look in practice?
Educational content based on real use cases: How to [stop worrying about VAT]; How to [control your business expenses]
Success stories: How [Company X] is saving [hours every month] and uses them to [brainstorm new ideas or take time off]
Small Business Influencers should also be part of the strategy. Paid partnerships could increase the reach at relatively low-cost (pre-credited account anyone?), and they can be authentic as spontaneous reviews.
What have I been up to?
🎧The Fintech Files Podcast
Henri Arslanian, PwC Global Crypto Leader and Asia FinTech Leader, Chairman of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong
Matt Smith, Founder and CEO of Steeleye
Jon Butler, Founder and CEO Velox Technologies
Brian Mehta, CMO Trading Technologies
🍿Disrupting the Script with Fintech
How would the popular show BILLIONS look like if you added Fintech to it? For example: stop trading based on rumours, use alternative data instead.
Thank you for allowing me in your inbox. If you have tips or thoughts on the newsletter, drop me a line. Or you can follow me on Twitter. If you liked this edition of the newsletter, please consider sharing across your social networks. Until next month!