How much are lenders differentiated on these traits?
Well, according to our latest intermediary research, quite significantly. And with brokers being very sensitive to changes in service delivery, a lender’s brand image can change dramatically in a very short period of time.
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s clear that image building is quite a journey for many lenders. For example, back in 2007, before Nationwide created its BDM network, it, logically, achieved zero registration on the image association for ‘Has good BDMs’.
However, this has become one of the building society’s strongest image attributes, with six in 10 brokers associating the brand with this characteristic in Q3 2012.
We measure a selection of attributes each month, ‘competitively priced mainstream products’ is the strongest image dimension associated with Woolwich, whilst ‘speedy and efficient processing application to offer’ is their weakest element.
In comparison, Virgin Money is most strongly linked with being ‘easy and pleasant to deal with’.
So for lender brands, listening to what brokers are saying about you can be a key factor in developing your brand image – and in increasing competitive advantage.
It’s interesting to see across this sample of lenders that not one of them is strongly linked to speedy and efficient application processing at the ‘application to offer’ stage. Although key to brokers, this is something of an industry-wide weakness.
Mark Long is director of research company at BDRC Continental