Super is about to get more competitive, ahead of its ‘set and forget’ status being reinforced by stapling, and the only way to ensure you can compete is brand. Moensie Rossier explains.

With the introduction of the government’s super reforms, brand could be your strongest asset or your Achilles’ heel. An intensive period of competition, in anticipation of stapling-induced inertia, means super companies need to be at the top of their game. Having the right positioning, the right name and a compelling identity will put you in the mind of potential members ahead of Australians being ‘stapled’ to one super fund.

There has been a flurry of activity in the branding arena as smaller or mid-sized super funds look to achieve greater scale and larger players become mega funds. A rebrand may be the necessary consequence of a merger, such as WA Super and First State Super becoming Aware Super, or the merger of QSuper and Sunsuper.

Alternatively, brand can act as a strong signal of an organisation’s future direction as it looks to achieve organic, brand-driven growth.

A legacy brand name may limit a fund’s appeal, suggesting exclusivity for a specific group of people. This is often the case with industry super funds or mutual organisations which may have expanded the audience they cater to outside their industry heritage. A legacy brand could send the wrong signal when looking to welcome new members. Instead, this presents a golden opportunity to rename and reframe to grow the brand.

The need for change may seem obvious in retrospect, but it’s quite common for brands to become attached over the years to limiting identities. It’s often an important business decision that triggers a brand review. Take the example of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, which needed to raise awareness of its expanding services beyond blood to other vital things such as plasma, and to mobilise donors. The name and visual identity evolved to Lifeblood, reflecting an organisation that thinks bigger than blood.

Closer to home, Active Super recently put its best foot forward to energise the organisation’s culture and grow its member base. The repositioning and name change from Local Government Super (LGS) to Active Super not only expands appeal to a broader audience but encourages people to take a more active role in defining their future through their super.

When Australians gain access to the ATO’s new super comparison tool, on what basis do you want people to actively select your fund? While geared to helping people find a better deal, comparison tools can encourage a myopic, transactional relationship.

Yet, there’s so much more to super, particularly when it comes to values and performance. If your brand has a richer story to tell, now’s the time to tell it with a clear brand positioning and narrative.

Again, look at the example of Active Super. The fund has been at the helm of responsible investing delivering strong returns for more than a decade, yet LGS had not told that story in a compelling way and others were stealing its thunder. The brand’s new positioning, based on the idea of ‘building wealth on good foundations’, has brought its responsible performance investment philosophy to the fore in a way that draws on its community heritage and appeals to new generations.

The magic is in the expression. Colourful and exuberant, ‘the clean green investing machine’ excites and stands out for people of all ages, an online community research panel confirmed. It reassures existing members of the fund’s strong performance, while appealing to a new generation of ethically motivated and purpose-driven Australians. With these changes to legislation, it’s never been so important to ensure you have a brand that appears modern and engaged – one that resonates as much with young people entering the workforce as it does to those approaching retirement.

To counter this, Active Super delivers a serious message in a playful way, evoking elements of their heritage while modernising and projecting it into the digital age. Every day, it’s driving momentum within the organisation.

Brand is a powerful tool to build cultural advantage in a changing world. It’s a springboard to attract the best talent, who want to feel proud to work for an organisation, and who will drive the business forward.

Business loan marketplace Valiant Finance has always put people first, making customers’ lives easier and imbuing its culture with a strong sense of purpose. Complementing the new tagline, ‘Taking care of business,’ Valiant’s revitalised identity depicts a lion with a cub, evoking its team spirit, internally known as ‘the pride.’ The energy and momentum of the 5-year-old fintech is impressive. As a brand, it attracts good company. Valiant recently partnered with MYOB to give small businesses predictive financing options that recommend relevant lending solutions based on their upcoming needs.

A strong brand builds cultural momentum, positions you to attract the best talent and partners and makes you more attractive to members. Brand pull will be an important metric for superannuation brand managers, like never before, as stapling bakes a new level of inertia into the category.

This article first appeared in Superfunds Magazine.