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Market like a fintech: The benefit of building an in-house brand team with Luke Richardson

Hosted by Araminta Robertson, 'Market like a fintech' is the new podcast for fintech marketing professionals and enthusiasts who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry, and level up their marketing knowledge. Subscribe here to never miss an episode.

Market Like a Fintech with Luke Richardson

Everyone in marketing will talk to you about the importance of building a brand.

Why you should build brand equity, figure out brand positioning, communicate your brand effectively to potential and current customers.

But putting it into practice is not straightforward. That’s because a brand is not just a nice logo and a cool website. It’s the soul of a company, it’s your mission and purpose, and values.

Most companies outsource this exercise or don’t give it too much thought. But we’re in fintech, where a lot of companies care a lot about their brand. And there are some fintech companies where the brand is really at the core of what they do. For one, it’s so important, that they have their own in-house brand team working alongside them.

This company is Pleo, known for its minimal, attractive and yet strong and recognisable brand. Pleo is a B2B fintech that offers smart company cards that automate expense reports and simplify company spending.

In this episode, Araminta is chatting with Luke Richardson, Director of Brand and Communications at Pleo. They chat about setting up outdoor campaigns, Pleo’s global summit at the end of the year and how he’s set out to build a successful in-house brand team.

Their conversation is highly focused on brand, so the content in today’s episode is especially useful to both B2C and B2B fintech companies that know they want to have a strong brand and are unsure who to hire in-house and what to outsource to an agency.

We’ve just launched our own Slack group for fintech marketers. That’s right, a Slack community where you can meet other fintech marketers and founders, engage in group discussions with industry experts and chat about upcoming podcast episodes. Join us now here.

Listen to Luke's complete interview below.

Don't try to I shake the status quo too much, probably better for your initial campaigns to do something a little bit closer towards what is true to your brand and your product offering, and what you're all about.


Key takeaways:

How to set up an outdoor brand campaign - Why did Pleo decide to invest in outdoor advertising?

For us, it was something very clear that we really wanted to invest in, we wanted to get out there a little bit more. Ultimately, we'd love to be doing more of those, real-life experiences, having connections, conversations with potential customers and customers themselves.

Regarding our recent brand campaign, we've really tried to put it much more sort of situational to how people are spending or what they are typically buying when they have a Pleo card in their pocket, back pocket, or on the phone in terms of Google Apple Pay. So, we have invested in around 150-200 different London outdoor placements, in front of buses or bus stops, different places where we know people are really on the go, typically travelling to and from work, or just around that sort of vicinity of East London.

It's probably a little bit too early to call the success of that kind of campaign at this point. As I said, we've pretty much gone around, later on, six days ago. But for us, we can really see, at least in terms of social engagement with this campaign. People really find appreciating the sort of sense of humour, which I'm not going to butcher on this podcast. Hopefully, people can go around and see the campaign themselves.

The sense of humour, the humbleness, the sort of proximity of the campaign in relation to the way that people were spending when taking the bus to work or getting on the tube and so on.

We are a B2B service. We aren't for every individual out there. And obviously, fintech is such a growing industry at this point with many direct to consumer players. For us, we are B2B. But we acknowledge that every company has to buy something, whether it's travel to meet with clients or the bill to keep the lights on in the office. So, therefore, we feel that we have a relatively sticky product and a huge opportunity to change the way that companies are spending.

We have an opportunity to potentially change not necessarily in a political way but sort of change the status quo of how companies are spending or how they're working together. So in some ways, it's kind of nice to get the biggest megaphone possible. And the biggest stage possible to showcase that message out of home typically allows for that.

Specifically for getting the campaign out there and seeing what options we have, we've looked at distressed media, of course, which is something that is a very typical playbook within a sort of startup and scale-up environment. Buying media on the cheap, very close to the point of publishing or getting the poster or whatever it is out there. But in this campaign, specifically, we worked with a local partner on the ground as a media planner, this is an industry that really is dependent on the relationships that you have with local players. Then ultimately, we were basically pinpointing on the map where we wanted to go and seemed like we wanted to go towards East London. And then I guess the rest is history from that point.

Emotionally-led campaigns can be quite divisive or even worse - some of them just completely tank and they don't work right. There's fewer campaigns that really emotionally lead and do phenomenally well. So, my suggestion from a sort of brand direction side is, don't try to I shake the status quo too much, probably better for your initial campaigns to do something a little bit closer towards what is true to your brand and your product offering and what you're all about.

The benefit of having an in-house brand studio - We have an internal Brand Studio, which is a dedicated team of different creatives, motion designers, art directors, copywriters, creative producers, and so on. And the fact that we have a core internal team really means that we're able to go a little bit deeper with different concepts, and creatives that we want to work with. Then, of course, we are working with people on the ground, or whether it's marketing managers, sales directors, and so on to kind of get a sense of what is the reading on the market. Of course, we can't be everywhere, all at the same time. But we can lean on their local expertise to figure out the kind of nuances within the market at that given time.

Naturally, agencies can be phenomenal, and the work that they can deliver for you. But it can often feel like you are just another client. Having an in house team feels like sitting just in front of the team just behind this door. I've got the team beavering away on many different creative projects, I do genuinely believe that they care about what we're doing, that they believe in the sort of company vision and purpose. And they really believe in taking the brand to the next level consistently.


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For me a good starting point for a founder trying to build a brand is "What is the vision?". Or what is the thing that they say to themselves every morning when they get up and look at themselves in the mirror? What are they trying to achieve with X company? For me, that is the branding.

For more interesting insights, listen to Luke's complete interview below.


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And if you can let us know what you think about it in a review, that would also be awesome and highly appreciated!


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