First Franklin rebrands corporate identity

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Challenge: When SVP-marketing Stephen Corsi started at non-conforming mortgage company First Franklin in 2003, the company’s marketing "was all over the place," he said. In the last five years, the company had used at least four different taglines and two logo variations, and its brand wasn’t consistent across its 35 branch offices.

After conducting focus groups with mortgage brokers, First Franklin’s largest client base, the company realized it was time to recreate its brand identity.

"We found out that nobody really knows what we stand for," Corsi said. "We wanted to stand out from our competitors."

Solution: The first step for First Franklin was to change their logo. An in-house creative team spent about two months redesigning the logo while the legal team cleared any trademark issues. For crafting a new tagline, First Franklin tapped relationship marketing agency MRM Partners, a division of McCann Erickson Worldgroup.

"We told MRM everything about our business, shared our old creative, what the competition looks like," Corsi said. "We knew where we wanted to go, so [we said], ‘let’s get some experts in here working with us’."

MRM Partners’ San Francisco office originally came up with more than 300 taglines, according to EVP-general manager Brian Powley. Within a month, First Franklin chose its favorite: "First for a reason." The tagline "helps motivate fresh-thinking and approach," Powley said.

After the rejuvenated brand identity was shared with First Franklin employees through an internal brochure, the "First for a reason" campaign was launched in June. The integrated marketing campaign included print ads, mass e-mails, direct mail, PR, a redesigned Web site, a new trade show booth, and sales pieces in all the branch offices.

Results: June was the best-performing month for First Franklin; the company’s total loan volume was $3.5 billion, up from $2.8 billion the previous month. Also in June, five new brokers at each of the 35 branch offices signed up for First Franklin’s services through the Web site. Prior to that, the company had not seen any new sign-ups on the site.

Corsi is pleased with the results of First Franklin’s marketing efforts. "Was it all the brand? No, but the brand had a big part to play in it, absolutely."

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