Let me begin by admitting that I am by no means a branding expert or a marketing whizz. However, the importance of a building a brand and relaying exactly what this brand stands for is patently obvious everywhere you look. Walk down any high street in the country and each and every person will, rightly or wrongly, consciously or sub-consciously, have their own views on the brands behind these shop fronts. This could be due to personal experience, anecdotal tales, media preconceptions or just plain dislike of the product. And this is why companies spend millions upon millions on carefully managing their brand image, with some results better than others.
The obvious example of strong branding is Apple. For those with shorter memories Apple was not always the definition of cool and contemporary. In its earlier days it struggled to carve itself a niche within the technology marketplace. So what changed? Well, a very simplistic view is that it began creating innovative, reliable and elegantly designed products enhanced by great packaging and branding which worked to capture the market’s attention. Importantly, but also sometimes understated, is that this was also aligned with a focus on generating a largely positive customer experience through a strong understanding of the brand from board through to store level.
This really underlines the fact that good branding goes far beyond a mere logo. The relevance of brand profile and the size of the marketing budget will inevitably vary between businesses and their focal points. Lenders will have far different approaches to branding than say a small intermediary firm. Having said that, realising their respective strengths and ensuring customers get access to the right types of products and the best experience possible should remain a common goal in helping to establish credibility to their name.
So why am I speaking about branding? Well after the recent story on Mortgage Solutions regarding the phasing out of the Woolwich brand, this seemed an appropriate juncture to expand a little on this decision.
‘Commitment’ to mortgage market
Woolwich is a name which has been highly valued within the intermediary community for quite some time and in the 15 years since Barclays acquired the business, we are proud of its significant growth and lending achievements. The aim has been to harness the Woolwich brand by levering its heritage and legacy to deliver a market-leading mix of products and service for our mortgage customers. There have been inevitable challenges along the way and while not always being perfect, Barclays – through Woolwich – has always maintained its commitment to the intermediaries and the mortgage market in general.
As the mortgage arm of Barclays, Woolwich has continued to play a vital role in the growth of the group but with time also comes change. It won’t come as too much of a surprise to our intermediary partners that we are in the process of phasing out the Woolwich brand. The influence of the Barclays brand has become more apparent in recent times and moving forward the decision has been made to communicate the mortgage proposition and service through Barclays as the primary brand for simplicity reasons.
But what does this actually mean for you?
This is a move which will certainly cause no detrimental impact to our customers or our intermediary partners. The reality is that while there are some obvious branding changes to be implemented, it is very much a case of business as usual in terms of mortgage lending. Looking forward we’re already testing how best to utilise the plethora of extra products, services and support available across the entire Barclays Group to make it even easier for you to work with us and grow your business. Importantly, let’s also just underline our unwavering commitment to ensuring that your clients will continue to have the same access to products that are available on the high street or on the internet.
The modern-day mortgage market demands that we don’t sit still and constantly look for ways to improve and evolve. And bringing the Barclays brand to the forefront of our mortgage proposition ensures that we’re in the best place to do this.