Using Data to Build a Brand, by Abba Newberry "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs December 12 2020 True Brand, Customer Research, Data-Driven Product Management, London, Product Marketing, ProductTank, ProductTank London, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 709 Abby Newberry - ProductTank London Product Management 2.836

Using Data to Build a Brand, by Abba Newberry


In this ProductTank London talk, Abba Newberry, CMO at Habito, talks us through how to use data to build a brand. As part of her introduction, she tongue-in-cheek acknowledges that part of the reason why product and marketing sometimes clash is that product teams tend to be very data driven, while marketing teams argue that data “is the enemy of creativity”.

Of course, Abba’s talk is a clear example of how research and data can be used to craft powerful, creative brand marketing that is not only memorable, but enables much more impactful “performance marketing” in other areas.

Tough Markets

There are some serious challenges in building a digital mortgage business. To start with, high street banks invest huge budgets in mortgage advertising as it’s an incredibly lucrative market for them. And secondly, trying to get the attention of a potential customer with messaging about mortgages is – as you might imagine – incredibly tough.

Getting a mortgage is a tough process and advertising in general can be hard since, in today’s digital climate, no one watches ads anymore. All of that taken together just meant that Habito needed to get creative to get the attention of customers, and to get their brand remembered.

Peak-end Rule

To start with, Abba and her team realised that they needed to think carefully about what kind of advertising they invested in. Humans don’t remember the details from a video – we actually remember the best moment, the worst moment and the end. Abba and her team refer to this as the peak-end rule, and it formed the basis for all of their efforts to tackle the mortgage market.

Essentially, viewers aren’t going to really remember the content of an advertising video, and they certainly won’t remember any product details. So the more “rational” the product, the more emotional you should be in marketing it if you want to stick in people’s memories. Don’t show the product, don’t try to sway viewers with logical product benefits and details… just remind people of the experience they had and the emotions they felt the last time they tried to solve your target problem.

Customer Insights & Data-Driven Ads

Having decided what kind of ads they were going to run, they needed to make sure they had a rock-solid understanding of their customers’ experiences and emotions. So, to run the best ads, Abba and her team conducted extensive research to make sure they understood their customer’s problems, and how they felt about the experience of getting a mortgage. The pay-off of that process was not only a much richer understanding of their customers in both quantitative and qualitative analyses, but all the material they needed to create highly memorable ads. To mention a few examples of what their research found:

  • 52% of people feel like they are paying too much for a mortgage, that it felt like they “had been robbed blind”, that there were charges heaped on charges by different parties, and they had no idea whether they are getting a good rate.
  • Many feel like there is too much jargon involved with getting a mortgage. The team at Habito spent a year with a team of linguists, removing jargon and getting the reading level of their mortgage details down from an 18-year to an 11-year.
  • Many find the process of getting a mortgage to be stressful, describing the emotional experience as “like they are going to drown” and leading to, on average, about 7 hours of lost sleep during the process.

Abba shows off some of the ads her team created with the data. Melding intuitive creativity extensive customer research, they developed a campaign of brand marketing that created a distinctive, memorable experience our their customers and potential customers.

As a result of their compelling brand identity, they managed to grow three times YoY, and to reduce their overall marketing costs by over 75% (bearing in mind that they’re competing against big bank budgets, that’s a huge win). If you take one thing away from this talk, it should be that marketers and product people can use data to help drive the creative process, hone in on customer pain points and ultimately build a brand.