In this crowded marketplace, how can a community financial institution possibly differentiate itself? Better technology is table stakes, because as soon as you add the latest shiny object to your tech stack, every other FI in town will add it, too. In the end, differentiation can only come from better ideas.
In this episode of The Digital Banking Podcast, our Josh DeTar welcomed Aaron Wollner, the CMO of Quontic Bank, which is the best online bank according to Forbes. Wollner discussed the importance of authenticity for a brand to resonate and explained the concept of non-monogamous banking. The two discussed the importance of digital transformation, how Quontic adapts to macroeconomic changes, and the one question you must constantly ask.
⚡ For a brand to resonate, it must be authentic. When Wollner arrived at Quontic about two and a half years ago, the bank already had a tagline — Adaptive Digital Bank — which they kept. According to Wollner, he kept some of the basic things in place drawing on them to create brand guidelines and further establish the bank’s identity. His stated goal was to bring authenticity to the brand and develop the brand voice. “It was not easy,” he said. “Just because you’re trying to be authentic, it typically doesn’t work; it’s borne out of a lot of hard work. That’s the best way I can put it.”
⚡ You can tell how great your idea is by how excited people are about it. With such a crowded market, financial institutions must bring original ideas to attract new and retain existing accountholders. Wollner regularly conducts ideation workshops with his team. During one, they came up with the concept of non-monogamous banking. “The way that you can gauge a great idea — because that’s a super subjective thing — is how excited people are,” noted Wollner. “If you’re in a room of people and you can feel some energy, you can feel some excitement around this idea — in this case, non-monogamous banking as a go-to-market concept — you have to capture that energy and not let it die. It’s so easy to have something feel bigger than it needs to be. So, by that, I mean make it small.”
⚡ The importance of asking: Is this working? Brand development is the strategic process of creating and distinguishing your company’s image, products, and services from your competitors. Like many organizations, Wollner said that Quontic is “building the plane while flying the plane” and pointed out that it’s critical to ask: Is this working? “If something isn’t working, you need to be able to acknowledge it, look it in the eye, and say, ‘This isn’t working.’ That’s why it was so crucial when we were doing the brand guidelines and developing the brand itself — checkpoints, milestones. Every six weeks during the project, we would step back as a group and ask ourselves that very simple, fundamental question … I guess part of that’s luck but also hard work and diligence. We came up with really great stuff that we kept on getting excited about.”