Toms River, New Jersey — August 1, 2022 — “Mortgages with Purpose®” — that’s the new tagline that succinctly sums up Family First Funding’s impactful rebrand. From the mortgage bank’s inception, founders Gabriel Gillen, Neusa Gillen and Scott Weikel prioritized its bold purpose: “To help individuals and families grow financially through real estate investments better than any mortgage company in the world.”
“Our mortgage process operates in an extremely efficient manner with key members of each department playing crucial roles to successfully achieve our customers’ goals. Each step throughout the loan application process is built with timely communication checkpoints that keep our customers’ deadlines top of mind. We are focused on exceeding the expectations of our customers and all parties involved in every transaction. It is with our Purpose in mind that we are able to help make the dreams of our customers a reality,” explains Neusa Gillen.
That purpose informed the marketing team’s every decision during the nine-month creative campaign. “It’s been extremely rewarding to help enhance the company’s long-term growth. We’re excited to have a strong brand guide which will inform all our future campaigns,” says Marketing Director Lauren Dobie. “While buying a home can be a scary experience for a first-time homebuyer, it’s also a fun and exciting one — which is what we emphasized in the rebrand,” Dobie explains.
Dobie’s team brought the new tagline to life in a highly emotive, elegantly shot 30 second commercial, which provided a creative framework for the campaign. “We wanted to answer the question: ‘What purpose does a home have in our lives?’ We want prospects to see just how meaningful and rewarding it can be to own a home,” explains Creative Director and 10-year branding veteran Sivon Pichoto.
At Family First Funding, loan officers get to know their clients before customizing a solution. And because nearly all borrowers lack basic mortgage knowledge, Dobie says, “We wanted to offer education and resources without the complex terminology that’s common in the mortgage industry.” That required developing a fresh strategy and tripling the size of the marketing team.
Dobie and Pichoto were determined to make both brand messaging and educational copy clear, concise, optimistic, and “skimmable” — per marketing industry standards. They brought on a senior copywriter to audit and edit website articles and videos, streamline and consolidate collateral, and create a glossary of terms which links to copy throughout the site for those who need it.
They also elevated the company’s creative development by expanding their design team and hiring a dedicated videographer. By implementing stable primary blue, approachable gentle gray and bright, fun-loving green they imbued the logo, website, and collateral with a contemporary flair while maintaining the company’s signature small family approachable appeal. “The handwritten font element makes the client feel that we are speaking directly to them. We offer clean, beautiful design without leaning too far into the stuffy ‘corporate look’,” explains Pichoto.
These content and design upgrades eliminate intimidating barriers for prospective clients who haven’t yet had their first conversation with Family First Funding. A new series of email campaigns also enable Loan Officers to connect with and help more families get into their dream homes. “I saw what our Loan Officers do daily to serve their clients and win new business and realized that in order to market themselves better they needed a stronger brand behind them,” explains Pichoto, who was determined to adapt the founders’ vision to invigorate a fresh generation of homeowners.
Loan Officers now have 24/7/365 access to a full suite of print and digital marketing tools to create direct mail and e-mail campaigns, blog articles, and social media graphics for every type of mortgage customer and referral partner. Now they can focus on what they do best. “Our loan officers take pride in their ability to hand-hold throughout the process, provide explanations, and answer questions to put their clients at ease during what can be a confusing process,” says Dobie.
Paired with fresh marketing materials and resources is a brand-new digital mortgage experience for loan officers, customers, and realtors, called Get Funded. Family First Funding has partnered with SimpleNexus to elevate its brand with single sign-on, mobile-first technology that makes home financing accessible from any internet-enabled device. This “access from anywhere” technology creates more efficiency and communication, allowing all parties on the loan transaction to stay connected with real-time notifications and updates.
There’s nothing confusing about the rebrand results — Family First Funding is attracting clients at an impressive rate thanks to a vibrant culture that cements employee-client and employee-employee bonds. That culture has always included monthly team calls with President Gabriel Gillen who says:
“I always enjoy meeting with the entire company on our monthly calls. My goal of these meetings is to share a short recap of the past month’s happenings, a preview of what is to come, and finally, to provide an industry update to explain the impact of national and global events. The changes to the work-from-home environment that our industry has experienced previously made it more difficult to maintain that cultural connection. By attending these calls, we have found that our team feels connected to the company and is aware of what our team is doing. It gives us an opportunity to also recognize the team in front of their peers.”
Individual departments also bond during weekly brainstorming calls. The company has enhanced its team-building spirit with a new promotional store that features a contemporary collection of swag and apparel. Now employees can wear that swag to the slew of events that help grow relationships and memories, including a festive launch party to celebrate the rebrand launch in late August and regional conferences for mortgage and real estate professionals.
President Gabriel Gillen explains, “Our company events give everyone a chance to be together whether it’s for collaboration purposes, community outreach and education, or simply for everyone to let loose and have a great time. Our work family spends an incredible amount of time together working hard to help our customers each day, and we aren’t always able to spend time together on a personal level. Our staff comes away from our company events energized, with a greater sense of purpose, and in alignment with the company’s mission and purpose.”
It’s clear why Family First Funding ranked #74 on the Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America 2021 list in Mortgage Executive Magazine, and with this rebranding initiative, the company intends to advance higher on that list every year.
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