Welcome to Transylvania
As soon as the word Transylvania is uttered, everyone’s imagination starts working overtime, marveling about old stories and legends, and, most of all, about Dracula the vampire. Or, for the informed, Count Vlad III, the Impaler. Few, however, know that the region made famous by the pen of Bram Stoker is also a land rich in history, breathtaking mountains, with a warm and inviting culture that is home to some of the best universities in Romania. Over the past several hundred years, Transylvania has been included in a number of kingdoms, empires, and nations which has resulted in a deep regional bond that unites Transylvanians through thick and thin.
It’s in this beautiful setting, and in particular in the picturesque city of Brașov, that the ambitious team of Transylvania Leasing & Credit, a regional financial services player with an uncompromising commitment to walk the talk when it comes to keeping promises to its clients, set out to strengthen the positioning of their brand.
Founded in 1997, the company always kept customers satisfaction as its top priority and managed to grow slowly and steadily over a challenging economic period in Romania. In 2013, its presence was already substantial, and by July of that year, made its appearance on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
The core challenge going forward was clear: How to pass from regional to the national level in a unique and defendable way, so as to avoid inviting direct competition from major players like UniCredit, BRD, or Raiffeisen, all with much bigger marketing and communication budgets.
The first step to develop a meaningful, deliverable, and defendable positioning going forward was to get a complete and comprehensive understanding of all benefits (functional and emotional) potentially deliverable by Transylvania Leasing & Credit. What was needed was an effective, yet efficient tool able to surface and identify Transylvania Leasing & Credit’s product features, both functional and emotional benefits, and any other brand-related factors. This is the specific role of The Orbiter.
The Orbiter session for Transilvania Leasing was conducted during a half-day session in the Brașov offices. Key staff members from different departments, all highly knowledgeable about the brand and the customer experience, were invited. Participation diversity was key to ensuring that all perspectives would be taken into consideration and that not even a small nuance would be overlooked. The adage, the devil is in the details, is especially appropriate for the Orbiter.
The first step in any Orbiter session is to search out and uncover all the features and benefits the brand has by putting together single thoughts – generally single words or very short sentences – on small notes that characterize the brand. These can be statements about anything from packaging to usage experiences. It’s also important to surface any associated imagery that has affected the brand in the past. Think in terms of a 360-degree perceptual assessment of the customer’s experience with the brand touching all the five senses along with all the full range of usage occasions related to the brand. What was crucial at this stage of the Orbiter process is to walk in the customers’ shoes and express their perceptions through communications and interactions with Transylvania Leasing & Credit. It’s like being on a benefit fishing expedition and wanting to catch as many fish as possible in our nets.
The Transylvania team was extremely productive and ended up with over 500 Post-it™ notes stuck up on the wall listing a wide range of features and benefits associated with the Transylvania Leasing & Credit brand.
These included statements like reliable, efficient, short approval time, cost-effective, etc., which represented the typical category benefits of the leasing industry. Also included were other brand-specific statements like smart and flexible, close to my own needs, treating us as partners, etc., that began to define a more differentiated platform on which the company could potentially build a strong competitive advantage.
What followed was a process of organizing and aligning all 500 Post-it™ notes into related themes, and attaching a brief title to each of the broader orbit groupings titled in terms of what the brand does for customers. All the surfaced Transilvania Leasing features, associations, benefits, and attributes were aligned (orbited) into 20 customer benefit areas including Transparent, Stable, Kind/Approachable, One-to-One Is this the end of this sentence & paragraph?
Relationship, Fair, Close to Us, and Empowering.
Putting all the pieces together
The final step of the Orbiter is to organize all the benefits found into comprehensive benefit clusters that would be meaningful to customers, deliverable by the company, and defendable versus competition. This next level of clustering, or orbiting, process is important because trying to own all 20 different benefits would just have made the brand highly fragmented, and perhaps, even schizophrenic, if they covered too wide a benefit pattern. Here, the step is to group the 20 smaller orbits into 6 bigger orbits – a brand benefit solar system, so to speak. In this manner, Trustworthy, Transparent, and Stable together formed the comprehensive orbit Reliable. The various benefits organized (orbited) into the higher-level benefits show the end result of the Orbiter for Transilvania Leasing. The result can then serve as an input to the overall brand architecture step to follow.
The Brand Strategy
The Orbiter results were of crucial importance to create a brand positioning strategy able to provide the Transylvania Leasing & Credit team with a meaningful customer mission for a competitive advantage in the Romanian market. Prioritizing features and benefits according to the customer target’s needs as necessary to deliver on all the relevant category demands in a highly competitive B2B environment. Moreover, the Orbiter provided the basis for the three core differentiating benefits that would set the company apart: Surprisingly Easy (simple and uncomplicated), a YES Attitude (quick, efficient, and dynamic) and We are Partners (in it together and adaptable to evolving customer needs). These emotionally connected benefits are extremely relevant, both from a professional and from a personal point of view, for the high-value B2B target segment called CONTRIBUTORS. This lead to the development of the crucial brand experience of Makes Me Feel Ready to Build a Sustainable Success.
Now that a more meaningful, deliverable, and defendable brand strategy had been established that targeted the highest value business customer segment for Leasing & Credit, the team had the demanding responsibility to fully deliver on the promises made.
by Luca Bertocci