Victor Leung
Victor Leung
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Brand Strategy Recommendations

October 07, 2022

In this proposal, I am making a strategic recommendation for Thought Machine, a product company in the fintech industry. It has built the core banking product, transforming the banking industry and empowering banks to offer innovative services to their customers.

Thought Machine has impressive growth and raised $200M in our recent Series C funding round with industry-leading VCs and leading global banks, including Nyca Partners, Molten Ventures, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered, bringing our total funding to $350M at a £1bn+ valuation. We work with a number of bank clients from Tier 1 to Challengers, such as atom bank, curve, Lloyds banking group, monese, SEB, standard chartered, transfer go, arvest, ING and JPMorgan Chase.

Thought Machine Products Vault is a ledger on cloud-native platforms (including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) with no legacy technology. Through Smart Contracts, Vault can be configured to run any type of retail bank product with flexibility, such as current accounts, savings, loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

Clock Mode is a framework to evaluate every interaction between the brand and consumer — pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase. In the pre-purchase phase, there are social media, fintech events, partners and response RFP (request for proposal). In the purchase phase, there is enablement, API, self-service and product service. In the post-purchase phase, there are support services, certification programs, training content and a newsletter.

A brand audit is conducted to identify the current positive and negative associations with the brand. These should be visceral, immediate associations that come to mind around the brand. On the positive side, associated terms include modern, smart, technology, trustworthy, lean, innovative, scalable, configurable, performance, security, reliability and quality. On the other hand, some negative associations could be complex, not a bank in a box, expensive friction at integration and not present in every local market.

After conducting a brand audit and understanding the current perception of the brand, a brand identity is created, which is the aspirational value proposition for the brand. The Thought Machine brand essence, which is aspirational, simple and visceral, is the foundation of modern banking. The core identity, that is timeless, important and substantive is cloud-native core banking and payment technology enabling banks and fintech to remain competitive and flourish into the future. For the extended identity, if brand a person, it would be a bit geeky smart person who focuses on technology. Brand as a symbol would be a cloud. Brand as an organization would be product first company. And brand as a product would be cloud-native core banking.

Below are my recommendations for Thought Machine to overcome the three hurdles in Differentiation, Relevance and Sustainable. Our company-wide business goal is to be the number one banking platform provider in the world.

In order to become a market leader, firstly focus on differentiation and stand out from the traditional vendors and build a high-quality cloud platform. A significant differentiator between Thought Machine and the competition is the universality and flexibility of Smart Contracts, which enable banks to build any type of banking product while all the competitors limit clients to pre-set parameters. I recommend strengthening this identity of configurability, building on the product strength to grow awareness and accelerate growth. It requires a strong understanding of the bank’s business needs and demonstrating our capability in front of the key stakeholders.

Secondly, on relevance, it matters to banks by offering cloud platforms to them as they won’t build internally. Banks are now with a large estate of systems built on multiple layers of legacy infrastructure, with a mix of third-party platforms and in-house systems. These are multiple siloed monolithic systems for each financial product type, with each product’s terms and conditions hard-wired into the core. I recommend we ensure zero delivery of products and build a reputation of high performing team, delivering our promises and result drive.

Lastly, on sustainability, we can maintain an edge by replacing mainframes in the bank. The bank legacy systems are often run from on-site mainframe servers that are expensive to maintain, difficult to audit and tedious to extend with institutional barriers to innovation. Making modest changes to financial products often requires lengthy development release cycles I recommend we seal long-term relationships with banks and integration partners, building on the end-to-end capabilities to make sure bank success drives innovation with speed and at scale.

Let me know if you have any questions on the above proposal and feel free to reach out:

About Victor Leung

Software development professional with expertise in application architecture, cloud solutions deployment, and financial products development. Possess a Master's degree in Computer Science and an MBA in Finance. Highly skilled in AWS (Certified Solutions Architect, Developer and SysOps Administrator), GCP (Professional Cloud Architect), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes(CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA), and Scrum(PSM, PSPO) methodologies.

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