Reverse Mortgage Changes Prompt Originators to Rethink and Rebrand

For any reverse mortgage professionals repositioning their businesses with new products and different strategies amid recent industry changes, now is the perfect time to rebrand, marketing experts say.

October 2017’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage principal limit factor changes and the waning volume they caused over the last year have many lenders and originators looking to diversify with new proprietary products or forward mortgages. For anyone on this path, there are some key steps to creating an impactful image, according to three reverse mortgage professionals with clearly defined brand messages at the annual National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference last week in San Diego.

New products in particular have encouraged rebranding among today’s originators, said John Luddy, senior vice president of reverse lending at Norcom Mortgage, during the conference.

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“I believe many of you are here today to reposition yourself with new products,” he said. “You might want to give some serious consideration to rebranding yourself when you begin to think about how you are going to market and sell the new products — it’s Important to be open and to be prepared to rebrand yourself.”

Luddy is known among industry participants for his ‘Norcom Sales Tip of the Week’. Giving examples of household names that have undergone brand changes — like Johnson&Johnson changing the color of its baby shampoo to fit modern parents’ desires and Dunkin’ Donuts dropping ‘Donuts’ from the brand name — Luddy said it’s important to change with the times or face consequences like Sears, which recently filed for bankruptcy.

Steven Sless, national reverse mortgage sales director for US Mortgage Corp. has put a lot of effort into his branding and identity, as evidenced with his tagline ‘More with Sless.’ He said this past year he witnessed firsthand how valuable a strong brand can be.

“After the changes this year, my personal platform was blown up,” he said. “The only thing that saved me was the ability to have and control my own brand. I know the impact of what it can mean.”

Elements for Success

Darius Aram, vice president of ARAMCO Mortgage, also contributed his branding know-how, offering details on the importance of a brand’s actual design components, such as a logo and cohesive fonts and colors across all platforms.

“It’s a design scheme composed of a number of core elements that come together to create a distinctive look and and feel,” he said.

And while those are crucial parts of a brand identity, Sless said the brand’s message is equally as important. Thoughtfulness should go into the planning, making sure the target audience and their needs are kept in mind.

“Any brand should ask three questions: Who are you? What do you do? And why is it important?” he said. “Any individual or company should be able to answer [these questions] distinctly and passionately.”

This message needs to be so clear that you are the immediate thought if someone thinks of your area of expertise, Luddy said.

“It’s more than what you know, and who you know. And It’s more than that: It’s who knows you,” he said. “Does everyone who knows me know what I do for a living?”

As for where to start, Sless said that a professional Facebook page can be an easy place to begin getting the who, what, and why out to your community.

Branding with Compliance

An important topic in the modern marketing space is compliance, but Sless said that it is possible to have your own brand and still be part of a larger company. He built his brand independent of US Mortgage, but made sure that branding components like colors were the same.

“It allowed me to be an owner of my business within my business,” he said. “If you’re able to take your brand and convey your message, you’re going to find that people rally around you.”

As long as compliance is being met, Sless urged more reverse mortgage companies to be open to their originators and account executives taking on their own brands, as it can be beneficial to everyone.

“Allowing a unique individual to go out and be their own brand and be their own business inside of your umbrella will maximize their earning potential, and it will maximize the company’s earning potential,” he said.

Written by Maggie Callahan