The start of 2021 inspired much reflection on the lessons learned from the year gone by. At Symcor, our marketing team has been on a fairly unique journey of transforming the brand and influencing company culture for the past two years. As I reflect on our path and the pivots driven by COVID-19, our story may benefit organizations looking to make their brand more purposeful than ever. After all, hindsight is 20/20.
Symcor’s North Star commits us to Connecting for the Common Good of our clients and communities. For over 24 years, Symcor has been a trusted partner to Canada’s largest financial institutions and businesses, supporting their growth with secure and efficient solutions.
As digital technologies accelerated a shift in customer expectations, Symcor had also been driving change within the organization to match this acceleration and sustain its clients’ continued growth. With a sharp lens on enabling their clients’, and in turn Canada’s digital transformation, Symcor had been investing heavily in advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to optimize its suite of solutions.
However, market knowledge of Symcor’s offerings and value proposition were low. Expertise to accelerate change, efficiencies of industry-wide infrastructure, and rigorous security protocols were areas of differentiation for Symcor, honed and optimized over two decades. And yet the market was largely unaware.
It was time to reinvent Symcor’s brand to accurately reflect their offerings that could play a significant role in supporting the future of Canada’s payments landscape. Symcor’s senior leadership team recognized the need for a comprehensive marketing plan to support our growth strategy.
Two and a half years ago, I came to Symcor with an exciting mandate to create a new brand identity that reinforced Symcor’s current capabilities, rebranded the company to showcase a new personality, and changed outdated market perceptions to better reflect a ‘new’ Symcor.
Driving this transformation has been an ongoing, whirlwind journey of change, creativity, collaboration and community. My team and I set out to secure Symcor’s unique strengths through a strategic refresh of its brand. We wanted to showcase Symcor’s bold character and innovative nature, rooted in the foundation of security and trust that they were already known for.
Essential to this was unlocking the value of Symcor’s offerings and clearly identifying what differentiates them in the marketplace. To cut through the clutter of B2B marketing, our branding and marketing strategy was anchored in five guiding principles:
1. Stay True to our CORe: Trust and excellence are the pillars that have always bolstered Symcor’s foundation. These and core corporate values – accountability, integrity and performance – define our beliefs and the standards we hold ourselves to. Our way forward was to ensure the new brand stayed true to our long-held values.
2. Be Bold: To create a standout brand identity that was strong enough to change perceptions and attitudes, we needed to evoke a ‘head-snap’. We chose to steer clear of dense messaging and generic imagery and instead developed entirely new creative that was bold and unique to enhance the recall value of the brand.
3. Know the Audience: Fact-based customer insights influence business decisions. To craft our message and plan our media, we dug deep to understand the customer journey and client pain points. To us, the outside-in approach was the only one to take.
4. Test, Measure, Pivot – Repeat: Marketing is part creative, part scientific. In the absence of historic marketing benchmarks, we targeted a strategic media mix that was frequented by our core audience. We repeatedly tested and optimized this mix until we had developed our own Symcor-specific benchmarks, which we continue to refine.
5. Create an Army of Brand Advocates: At the core of Symcor is its community, its people and its culture. Part of improving the brand’s visibility was showcasing the people behind the brand. This created a unique opportunity for Symcor’s clients to discover what makes us unique and for employees to share a common sense of purpose. Many employees have shared the pride they feel to work at Symcor and to see the brand come to life. This emotional connection was just as important to create internally, as it is externally.
Even as the world was turned upside down by COVID-19, we found that these principles still applied and helped us continue to grow our market presence. As lifestyles changed, we had to reacquaint ourselves with our target audience and their new habits of media ingestion. Testing, measuring and pivoting was more important than ever. Our employees’ desire to stay connected created a new need that the brand could fill and a #SymcorStrong internal campaign tied us together like never before, spanning provinces and communities. Through this all, we stayed true to our principle of being bold as audiences have been bombarded with messaging.
The consistent use of Symcor’s differentiators - Trust, Acceleration, and Value - in our messaging and marketing campaigns shaped our brand reputation, driving demand generation and communicating the long-term value of our brand.
We are incredibly proud to see the impact of our ongoing brand transformation not only in customer engagement and industry awards, but also on our employees. “It’s mommy’s work!” exclaimed the children of one of our employees upon seeing a Symcor advertisement on television. Our brand today reflects our employees – strong and forward-looking. And together with their engagement, the future is promising as Symcor extends to more industries with new products and unearths exciting new opportunities.