The fintech world is blooming. More and more payment and banking services are ready to reinvent the way we do business.
Tuum (formerly known as Modularbank) is one of the rapidly-growing Fintech companies leading the way. We met with Vilve Vene, CEO and co-founder, and Kalli Kulla, Head of Marketing, to talk about the relevance of branding in the financial industry.
“When you grow quickly it’s easy to lose your focus. You just keep adding new products and information.” Vilve explains. “I see this a lot when I look at the market. There are great companies which started with very clear messaging, but now they’re all over the place.” Kalli jumps in: “There are so many similar looking fintech companies out there, that it’s hard to remember them. You need to stand out in a sea of sameness.”
“Branding and business goals are all connected.” Vilve starts. “A brand story is part and parcel of everything you do, so it needs investment. For a long time we had many other priorities. This comes with starting a new business; your product is very important and you don’t think much about branding and marketing. However you can only target the right audience with a clear brand story and the right tools. This allows you to enter new markets in the right way.”
The main reason Tuum took up the rebranding journey was because of its name. Their former name, Modularbank, was confusing to prospects and potential employees. Tuum isn’t a bank, it’s a technology provider. Next to that, did their brand name Modularbank become a generic category in the industry.
“Besides the naming problem there was also a great need from marketing and communication” Kalli adds. “Internally it was a big mess; our designer had to work with the ‘visual identity style guide’ which was no more than a one-pager with some fonts and colours. With new markets and client groups on the way there was a lot of demand for new assets serving different stakeholders (sales, employer branding etc.). We were in need of a strong and clear brand system.“
Only with a clear brand story and with the right tools can you target the right audience. This allows you to enter new markets in the right way.
An impossible mission
At the start of the rebranding Vilve’s colleagues believed that it was an impossible mission. “We knew it was going to be challenging.” Vilve says. “First of all, we had a very fixed deadline. Secondly, throughout the company there was fear of change.”
“When you start your own company and work with the same brand name and visual identity for years, you’ve become very attached to it.” Vilve explains. “But you have to understand that things are never finished. What you finish today, is gone tomorrow. Digital transformation doesn’t have an end date. You have to keep moving - all the time. Reinvent yourself and reassess everything you do. An agile digitally first mindset is key: make sure you understand what is coming next and think about how you're going to support it in the best way. Make sure that you stick to what you're good at. Don't try to solve all the problems in the world.”
The beginning of a new brandstory
This was Tuum's first time doing an extensive branding exercise. Vilve’s biggest insight is that “understanding that everything [sales and branding] is integrated and that design should be part of the process. When you think about it: everything that you do is essentially linked to user experience. We want to establish a more cross-team collaboration.”
Kalli is looking forward to the next chapter of Tuum: “We always understood what we were doing. It was all in our heads, but when someone else asks you to explain this, you discover you actually don’t have a clear story on paper. The strategy of Verve allowed us to find the right words for it, helping us to communicate who we are and what we do.”
Entering new markets
Tuum got a lot of positive responses after the rebranding: “Investors complimented and congratulated us on the new identity. And although this wasn’t our primary goal, it’s clear we’re now really standing out in the market. We don’t look like any of our competitors.” Vilve explains.
Both Vilve and Kalli have a final word of advice for those looking to go through a rebranding process: “Be open minded. You come in with a strong sense of what you like, but five minutes in, you might not be so sure anymore. Even our most stubborn colleagues discovered they had to be flexible to make it work. The key is to not think about what you like, but about what actually works.”
“Pick the right partner”, Kalli adds. “Pick someone with whom you have common ground, that shares your working attitude.” “Also, trust your partner,” emphasizes Vilve, “Just think about how you want to be trusted as a professional and do the same to others. Remember you have your opinions, but you’re not the expert. Let the other half speak.”
The key is to not think about what you like, but about what actually works.