Verdant was the runner-up name for Michael Bolton’s new lending venture, but the Oakwood Group settled on Edeus because they favoured the “mortgage creator” tagline.Edeus managing director Alan Cleary says private equity firm Oakwood asked four marketing agencies to come up with a name and a branding strategy and the agencies presented around 200 names. Cleary says: “Apparently, all of the names that were put forward were nondescript, awful words like Moonstruck and Euphoria. They were quite creative but they did not mean anything.” The number of agencies was then cut down to two but a suitable name had still not presented itself. Cleary admits the absence of a company title was starting to hold up the planning process. He says: “It was becoming vitally important to have a name. A name conjures up feelings and pictures and Oakwood could not build the company without a name.” But then London advertising agency The Gate came up with with Edeus and Verdant. Cleary says: “The name had to be something that everyone believed in and be a word we could build upon which would not hold us back. The Gate pitched two names to Oakwood and both of them knocked their socks off. The Verdant proposition was based around growth and the idea of a business teeming with life. “But Oakwood was unanimously sold on Edeus. The words ‘mortgage creator’ just stood out as on a different plane to everyone else in the market.”s Oakwood then had a long debate about whether the reference to deus, meaning creator or god, would be perceived as arrogant or pretentious. Cleary says they employed what he calls the “freak test” method. “Our competitors are always going to be negative about whatever we do. The trick is understanding what your competitors are likely to do with it. We knew the god angle was going to come out. It is just a question of expecting it and we encouraged it to come out as quickly as possible so it would be devalued and people would forget about it,” he says. There have been suggestions that Edeus could be seen as heathen or satanic which Cleary says is amusing. “We are standing firm with the creator angle. People will get bored with the other angles pretty quickly,” he says. Oakwood did not consider a quiet entrance to the market and Cleary says: “It is all about column inches. Not for one second did we consider a muted launch? We have not come here to be a bit player in the market.” His belief in Edeus is unwavering and he thinks it can deliver something better in the market than HBOS. It is aiming for a more specialist lending experience away from the big corporate experience. Good products always have to be the starting point in Cleary’s eyes. “Once you have a good product proposition, then the marketing angle becomes very important. If you have a great product and you do not tell anyone about it then it is no good. We are very marketing led.” He says the Edeus brand is all about personality and hence the recent advertise-ments featuring CCTV shots of Bolton, Cleary and director of corporate accounts Martin Reynolds among others. Cleary says humour was an important aspect of the ads. But he refuses to be drawn on how their products will differ from other specialist lenders although he does say that Edeus aims to bring the intermediary into the heart of its business. “If you trust the intermediary to bring in the business, then why not trust them enough to let them do the whole arrangement process themselves from start to finish? We are going to bring them right into our business,” he says. Technology is a key part of the firm and has been built into the name – the “e” in Edeus aiming to represent electronic business online. In 2003, Cleary was part of the HBOS team which introduced the one-minute mortgage and he believes Edeus can achieve some- thing similar . “We introduced the one-minute mortgage three years ago but some lenders are still using bits of paper. Some lenders are slow and sleepy and are hiding their heads under the blanket. This is not a crowded market in terms of innovation, there is still lots of room. “Our competitors will not be able to ignore us because we will be so high profile they will know we are there.” Cleary’s primary concern is that the business may be too successful and put pressure on service standards. It is difficult to estimate business volumes for the first year and he says fairly conservative figures were presented to investors. He is reluctant to give a figure but says around the 1bn mark for the first year is a figure which has been mentioned but he says Edeus has the resources and systems to cope with double that volume of business. Speed of offer and personal service are two vital parts of the business. “We will have offered the deal before the intermediary even starts to worry about it. We will have underwriters on the end of the line.” Edeus has an internet address with the .eu ending and Cleary says there are two reasons for this. “Being one of the first UK companies to adopt this will make us stand out but also one of our strategic options is to move into Europe at some point, which is obviously much easier with the .eu suffix. It is all about having a name that does not limit our business. A .uk ending does limit business.” Is Cleary worried that when Edeus is finally launched in September, the result may not live up to the marketing and media hype? He responds: “If we do not deliver something that lives up to the hype then we will have wasted a lot of money. We will bring innovations at launch but also after that. We will be the leading edge.”
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