A leading light in a changing industry

Financial Services

When it comes to industries with reputational problems, there are few as problematic as the debt industry. So when our friends at Copper Street Capital asked us to help rebrand a debt purchasing and collection business they had just acquired, we were understandably wary.

As it turned out, we needn’t have been worried. Not only had the industry been the subject of significant FCA attention in recent years - having become fully regulated - but the company in need of a rebrand (MMF) was under the direction of newly-appointed CEO Denise Crossley. It turned out Denise was a staunch industry reformer with a reputation for running businesses that prioritised people over profit.

In short, exactly the sort of leader we like working with.

The challenge that Denise and MMF faced was that its public-facing brand was stuck in the past – reflecting the company as it used to be but no longer was. It was time to bring the brand into the present day…

Putting care at the heart of the brand

Over the course of several workshops, client interviews and customer surveys, it became apparent that Denise and her team didn’t just pay lip service to a new way of doing business – they went out of their way to do right by their often vulnerable customers. In the first few months of working together, the company scooped up its first customer service award – confirming that this was a business with strong values and a clear sense of purpose.

Whilst Lantern served both B2C and B2B audiences, positioning them for the B2B crowd of lenders (banks, retail outlets, public sector bodies) was the bigger challenge. In a market where profit is king, how do you position yourself around values and purpose? The answer - become the category challenger.

Off the back of research, we proposed a bold positioning for the B2B brand: The Vulnerability Champion. We would be the ones to challenge:

  • Assumptions in the industry (around customer vulnerability)
  • Attitudes of lenders (towards vulnerable customers)
  • Behaviours of collectors (towards vulnerable customers)

A new name and rallying cry

A wide-ranging name generation process eventually led to a clear choice: Lantern. It was a brave move for a company in a 'safe and stagnant' industry, with nearly all competitors opting for names devoid of interest, emotion or aspiration.

Ultimately, the draw of Lantern to the company’s leaders was that it served as a reminder of the high standards they set themselves, as well as reflecting the organisation's new-found purpose: To be a torchbearer for vulnerable customers.

Alongside the name and purpose, there was also a bigger brand thought which would run through all communications. In the end it was the simplest of thoughts that resonated most deeply with what Lantern was about:


A new look & feel

With a bold new name and powerful brand thought, the challenge was to create a visual identity that matched this ambition – whilst still retaining enough of the safety and security needed for a financial institution dealing with often-vulnerable customers.

The idea of Lantern shining a gentle light into the surrounding darkness became the basis of the new logo marque and colour scheme. Our approach to imagery placed real people in real-life situations at the heart of the brand – conveying the message that Lantern takes customers’ real-life circumstances in mind when it comes to repayments.

With the client thoroughly in love with the new messaging and identity, we went about transferring it onto a range of branded items that would serve as useful tools for the growing staff team – as well as executing it through new sales decks, a series of launch adverts, revamped induction presentation and a new website.

Memorable launch, meteoric growth

When the big day came for the internal launch of the name and new visual identity, there was a hush of excitement in the room as staff gathered for the big reveal (the few in the know had avoided spilling the beans).

Denise told the story of the journey the company had been on, building up to the reveal of the new company name. As the word Lantern flashed on the screen behind her, the reaction was instant: at first audible gasps of surprise, followed by big smiles, then a spontaneous round of applause! The step into the unknown had been greeted with the best possible response.

Since that point, it seems the only way is up for Lantern. It started with an award for Best Rebrand in the Credit & Financial Services Industry. That was followed by four consecutive years of receiving GOLD awards for both Investors in Customers and Investors in People - the only debt business to have been awarded these honours back-to-back.

But the real test of 'debt with a human touch' - both the brand and the reality of it for their customers? Continued growth for the business - including the acquisition of other businesses that are also realising there is a better way of doing debt.

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It was amazing to see the vision I had for this business brought to life. Using said & done to create our brand was simply the best decision we made. I don't think we would have got to where we have without the rebrand.

Denise Crossley