Marketing above the line with fintech Habito

Updated: Apr 14

How can you convert a boring financial product like mortgages into a compelling and engaging offering? With empathy and bravery, as proved by UK fintech Habito.

Founded in 2015, the company has quickly gained fame, after launching one of the most controversial branding campaigns in the sector, “Hell or Habito”. Disturbing metal tunes, outrageous animations and humour, and a major focus on traditional media like TV, helped Habito triple its brand awareness and reduce its acquisition costs by 75%.

But, how has Habito’s branding strategy adapted and navigated through the COVID-19 crisis? Romney Taylor, VP of Marketing at Habito, answers this and a series of other questions about the importance of “impact” in fintech marketing, why marketing a fintech is a unique experience, and what will shape the industry in 2021.

Hell or Habito Campaign Banner

“Hell or Habito”: Make a statement

Habito is an online mortgage broker based in the UK that provides a cost-efficient and user-friendly alternative to traditional mortgage lender services. The fintech startup was launched in 2015 and since then it has received over £63mn in total funding, sorted £4 bn worth of mortgages and marked 4,000+ excellent client ratings on Trustpilot.

A major reason behind the company’s immense success has certainly been its outstanding branding strategy. In a competitive and dull sector like mortgages and lending, positioning a new product and creating a distinct brand is a tough business.

But, Habito found a way to tackle this. Learning from its past mistake with its early-day branding efforts that focused primarily on the product instead of the end-user, for its second major branding push at the end of 2018, Habito decided to look for ideas and inspiration from its customers’ actual emotions and experience with mortgages.

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That’s how the “Hell or Habito” idea was born. Following the “peak end rule” theory according to which people tend to remember the worst and last things during an experience, “Hell or Habito” was intended to invoke the emotion of how horrible it was getting a mortgage and show how Habito can solve the issue.

With a big idea in place, the company then looked at the creative side of the project. Having a tight budget meant that creativity was fundamental for the successful implementation of the “Hell or Habito” campaign. Knowing this, Habito’s team decided to take some risks and chose a rather unconventional creative concept that included animated characters being ingested by piranhas, having their intestines ripped out and souls stolen.

Thus, according to Romney, Habito’s key brand differentiators can be summed up in two words: empathy and bravery.

“Everything we do stems from real customer insight about the inertia, fear and boredom people face with their mortgage. And we act bravely on those insights. We've made huge bets on our ability to transform not only mortgage broking but the entire housing market.”

“We were the first-ever broker to get a lending license. We've built a digital-first brokerage, a home buying service and our own lending products. Our ambition to solve mortgages knows no bounds and sets us miles apart from any would-be competitors.”

“And I mean, mortgages are boring! It's one of the most boring categories out there. We've built an outrageous brand that customers love in a space where everyone else is still stuck on stock images of happy families. Our brand universe features skateboard imagery, outrageous humour and even sex.”