Residential Magazine

You’re the One that Does that Thing

An instantly recognizable brand can set you apart from your competitors

By Erica LaCentra

In a space like the mortgage industry, where competing mortgage brokers often have to offer potential clients loan products with similar pricing, leverage and terms, it is more important than ever to build a brand rather than just sell a product. While individual products can quickly become outdated, a strong brand can more easily pivot to withstand market changes and challenges.

Developing a strong brand and appropriately positioning that brand in the market is key to differentiating yourself and your business from competitors. When you develop a strong brand, you can easily change, add and remove product offerings over time without setting your business back.

Having the foundation of a recognizable brand allows you to tout your company’s strengths and where you thrive in the marketplace beyond just a sole product. What makes an excellent brand and, more importantly, what steps should brokers take to build their company’s brand into something truly standout?

Physical aspects

When working to create and flesh out your company’s brand, it is first important to consider the physical parts of branding. When thinking about the physical things that make up a brand, at a basic level, it’s important to spend time on the creation of a logo.

Whether your logo is a simple wordmark — essentially a designed version of the name of your company — or an icon (or a combination of the two), a good logo should be easily recognizable in any format. Whether appearing on print materials, digitally or even on physical items like T-shirts and swag, you want to have a logo that, at a glance, people will associate with your company and recall exactly what you do. Think of the golden arches for McDonald’s or the swoosh for Nike. You want something memorable and unique, so your logo is never confused with a competitor.

As you are developing a logo, you should concurrently be thinking about the colors, images and any other visual elements that will tie into the overall look and feel of your company’s brand. Think about what you want borrowers to think of when they look at your company’s marketing pieces and also how elements in your marketing will allow you to stand out from others in the space.

For instance, if you specialize in loans for first-time homebuyers, you will want to utilize imagery that captures that experience. Think getting the keys to your first house and a “Sold” sign. Consider the typical demographic of first-time homebuyers, young couples or younger families. If you specialize in fix-and-flip loans, using images of fixer-upper homes or homes actively being renovated will also give potential clients a quick understanding of your niche in the market. You want to not only convey who you are as a company, but also what makes you unique from other mortgage brokers.

Intangible elements

As you are developing the physical aspects of your company’s brand it’s also important to think about the intangible elements of branding as well. Both the physical and immaterial elements matter in brand development, and these aspects should be developed in tandem to create memorable branding.

When it comes to what immaterial aspects of a brand brokers should be focusing on, it is going to come down to creating a defined audience and clear messaging conveyed through the brand’s voice. These pieces go hand in hand, because to develop a clear brand message, brokers must have a well-defined audience.

Think of it this way: A broker could try to cast as wide of a net as possible, but chances are, they will catch a lot of clients that fall well outside the scope of what they can actually do. Especially when it comes to branding and marketing, casting a wider net usually does not equal success. Not having a defined audience usually results in spending more money, time and effort than is necessary and having a poor level of return. You may get more eyes on your company, but often, you are not attracting your ideal client who will end up converting.

“A broker could try to cast as wide of a net as possible, but chances are, they will catch a lot of clients that fall well outside the scope of what they can actually do.”

So, as you are developing your brand, define your audience. Think of who your ideal client is and the message that speaks to that audience. To accomplish effective messaging, it can be helpful to think about the pain points that your specific audience is experiencing and how your products resolve those problems. It’s important to be clear and concise with your messaging. Potential clients should never be wondering what products you offer or what those programs can help them accomplish.

Finally, craft this messaging with tone and specific language in mind. This is your brand’s voice. What verbiage and phrasing are going to appeal most to your audience? For example, using complex verbiage, acronyms and terms about mortgages is not going to work with a first-time homebuyer audience, as it may overwhelm those just delving into this process.

On the flip side, if you are a broker with products that appeal to a direct investor client, using well-known industry terms like “after-repair value” and “debt service coverage ratio” that speak to aspects of a loan program that an investor may be interested in could help you land the right connections. Regardless of what loan programs you are offering, own your niche and make sure your marketing and brand speak to your audience.

Market awareness

For brokers who are trying to figure out where to start when developing a brand or strengthening an existing brand, one of the best first steps can be to conduct market research. Doing market research and looking at what others in the industry are doing is a crucial part of brand development.

Specifically, it can be helpful to research competitors to see what they are doing, what is and isn’t working for them, and what you do and don’t like. Having this knowledge of your closest competition can give you starting elements to work from to develop your own brand. It can also provide a baseline to which you can compare your brand to ensure you are standing out.

“No matter what you develop for your brand, it is incredibly important to be consistent with the elements you choose.”

Just be cautious as to how much inspiration you are taking from other companies in the space. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be copying branding and marketing directly from other brokers or lenders when you are creating your brand. Besides the obvious reason of setting yourself up for a potential lawsuit and future legal ramifications, copying another brand too closely will muddy the waters and create confusion about your company.

It will cause you to not stand out from your competition, and while it may seem like a shortcut to get up and running quickly, it won’t do you any favors in the long run. Feel free to take inspiration and leverage what you know about the competition, but put your efforts into developing your own unique brand.

Finally, one of the most important things to know when you are going through the process of building your brand is that consistency is key. No matter what you develop for your brand, it is incredibly important to be consistent with the elements you choose. Consistency in branding and marketing helps to not only establish recognition with your customer base, but it will also reinforce your brand messaging over time. A good brand is something that will require effort to grow and maintain overtime, but in the end, it will help your company develop a greater connection and sense of long-term trust with your clients.


  • Erica LaCentra

    Erica LaCentra is chief marketing officer for RCN Capital. She is responsible for planning, developing and implementing the firm’s marketing plan as well as overseeing its marketing department. After joining RCN Capital in 2013, LaCentra led a strategic rebranding to position the company for nationwide expansion. Her ongoing efforts have rapidly expanded RCN’s customer base and elevated the company to a national brand. Reach LaCentra at (860) 432-4782.

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