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 funds need to be at the top of their game. Having the right positioning, the right name and a compelling identity will put you top of mind for potential members.

There has been a flurry of activity in the branding arena as smaller or mid-sized 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 have expanded the audience they cater to outside the 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 to limiting identities. Take the example of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service which needed to raise awareness of its expanding services beyond blood 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 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.

The magic is in the expression. Colourful and exuberant, ‘the clean green investing machine’ excites and stands out for people of all ages, confirmed by an online community research panel.

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 that end, the Active Super branding delivers a serious message in a playful way, evoking elements of its heritage while modernising and projecting it into the digital age.

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. It can even open the door to partnerships that add value to your members and the organisation.

Take the example of business loan marketplace Valiant Finance. The organisation prides itself on putting people first, making its customers’ lives easier and imbuing its culture with a strong sense of purpose. However, the original brand identity didn’t tell that story in the most compelling way. In 2020, the business refreshed its brand.

Complementing the new tagline, ‘Taking care of business,’ Valiant’s revitalised identity depicts a lion with a cub, evoking team spirit, internally known as ‘the pride.’ Now as a brand, it attracts good company, recently partnering with MYOB to offer tailored financing to small businesses.

As stapling bakes a new level of inertia into the super industry, brand pull will arguably be the key to your competitive advantage.