Fintech brand building and the power of reputation

These days, fintech is big business. The global fintech market is expected to reach nearly $310 billion by 2022. While this is still small compared to the traditional global financial services market, there is a massive opportunity for innovative, fast-growth firms – but only if they create a strong brand and positive reputation. 

Fintech is a crowded market. Discounting larger players, there were 10,755 fintech startups recorded in North America in November 2021, with 9,323 recorded in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and 6,268 in the Asia Pacific region. 

Amongst so much competition, the challenge becomes how to differentiate, acquire users or customers and stay relevant to them.

Earning your place in the market

Traditional financial service players can rely on longevity and market presence because they have been good at what they do for decades — even centuries — and have the market share and a customer base to back this up. So, fast-growth, innovative and digital-born challengers have a harder job. They need to convince customers or clients to buy into their disruptive or evolved approach, and this requires a great deal of education and persuasion. The quickest, most effective and scalable way to achieve this is through earned media.

Why? Because earned media builds reputations. Positive media coverage places you at the center of the conversation, establishes credibility, and has an impact on the bottom line.

In the eyes of customers, it’s a third-party endorsement, showcasing the fintech startups’ offerings are worth consideration, and that its products and viewpoints have weight in the marketplace. Media coverage provides a powerful tool for brands, especially for those at early and fast-growth stages, so long as it is both intelligently informed and strategic in approach.

The “how” to this lies in thinking about the customer journey from awareness, to a fully signed up and engaged user. A good PR strategy maps specific stories, themes, and topics to resonate with customers at important stages of the journey, both from a global perspective as well as paying attention to the needs and requirements of customers in specific regions.

At an awareness stage, this is talking to the wider market – explaining the philosophy behind your business, what specific problem you are solving. For prospects at the consideration stage, generate positive and high profile media coverage on the benefits of your approach versus competitors. And for prospects at decision level, press coverage should place the brand as a trusted adviser, explaining how the fintech would solve pain points.

But don’t let earned coverage lie dormant. Harness it through wider marketing programmes. Get your social channels to celebrate it, and feature it on your website. Consider supporting this effort with some paid social budget to promote coverage and target specific personas to ensure your earned endorsements reach the audiences who need to see them.

Harnessing your community

Broadcasting a brand’s voice through PR is crucial to achieving credibility. Another powerful tool in earning the trust and attention of prospects is in using the voice of your own customers.

Fintech fans are vocal. They are passionate about changing the world of financial services, whether that is via fully decentralised finance, democratising access to financial markets, or simply providing a better, real-time experience. 

The brands that succeed are those that convert customers into vocal fans. Think about how word-of-mouth was so powerful for many startups from Monzo to Freetrade – a flash of a coral-coloured card as a signifier of tech-savviness, or showing portfolio returns via an app to showcase financial nous. Or, think about the vocal, tight-knit community of crypto fans, who are continually pushing for mainstream adoption. Smart brands are those that empower existing users into a customer acquisition channel. 

But as with media coverage, don’t let the heroes of your brand stay dormant. Give them space to talk about your brand, offerings, and the market – create a community you own, to support future sales and adoption. This could range from engagement on social channels and community forums you own to digital and real-life events.

Converting endorsements into results

For early-stage and fast-growth fintechs, awareness is oxygen. Endorsements from third parties showcase a brand and relate it to its customer base. It differentiates them in a crowded marketplace.

But brands need to create smooth-running machinery to build and maintain this level of awareness and ensure this has a real impact in adoption, customer longevity, and revenue.

If you need to scale your brand and reputation, get in touch to see how Gallium can help.

Rich Went
Rich Went
A senior account director at Gallium, Rich is a news junkie with a passion for everything music, fintech and web3 with a decade's worth of experience in PR, comms and marketing.