Modern Lending Podcast | David King

Alec has David King on, he is the Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at LoanDepot. He speaks with Alec today on how to tell a story and the power of branding.

Your snippet of this episode of the Modern Lending Podcast:

  • How are you telling your story?
  • Everyone starts of small, David started with a camcorder and an old iMac
  • Identifying your why, who and what
  • What is the feeling when you look at brand or logo...

Episode Transcribe

Alec:
What episode are we on? HAHAHAHA

Mike:
Seven.

Alec:
You can keep that clip in. What's up, Modern Lending Podcast, you're tuning up for episode seven of the Modern Lending Podcast. I am bringing to you David King the chief marketing officer for loanDepot to talk about brand and marketing in a contemporary age. You don't want to miss this one. There is a lot of confusion about what it is to brand yourself and what does a brand mean. And there's a lot of people that are confusing that with logos and taglines and colors and what all of those things have a place. Man, tune in you're going to really enjoy this conversation. Let's kick it of with David King.
What's up everybody here we go. Another episode of the Modern Lending Podcast, I'm here with my homie David King. The chief marketing officer at loanDepot.

David King:
That's right.

Alec:
Were going to have some fun.

David King:
I hope so.

Alec:
I got some good stuff. I got some questions. We've got some stuff to talk about. And so for those who don't know, I've been actually a fun of David in the industry for a long time. Watched what you've done at previous companies, I'd love for you to share some on your background. But you're newer to loanDepot.

David King:
Four months.

Alec:
Four months old.

David King:
Four months.

Alec:
So that's like you got top of your legs, you've been walking around a little bit. I'm really excited to talk to you about lots of stuff. Number one, I feel like you have tremendous really cool insight into branding and into story telling and into that marketing aspect that is very contemporary and everyone is leaning into. So I'd love to unpack that and before we go into my questions, give everybody that's listening either on YouTube and watching, hello. Love you guys, or on the podcast, just your background so people can know who you are, who don't know you.

David King:
Yeah. So I was just talking just a few minutes ago about how I came into what I do know. I've been doing what I do know for almost 10 years. But really, I say I got into it by accident but not really. I own my own business, I was in a completely different industry.

Alec:
Which was?

David King:
Home Security Systems.

Alec:
That is very close to marketing.

David King:
Yeah. So I worked for about, between five to six years for ADT Security.

Alec:
Awesome.

David King:
And I did mostly sales, but I did some installers while I really wanted to get my hands dirty.

Alec:
You mean sales, was this door to door or was this relationship sales?

David King:
Both. Both.

Alec:
You did door knocking?

David King:
I did.

Alec:
You got know what the street's like.

David King:
You learn a lot about yourself when you got to knock on a door and I did both residential and small business. I believe it was 5,00 square feet and under. So it was all street malls and that kind of thing. I did about five to six years of sales and installers while learned the industry really well to the point where I felt I should own my own business, why not? Yeah, I know this thing,.

Alec:
Do it.

David King:
I'll do it. So owned my own business for about six years doing the same thing. I was the CEO, the CFO, the CMO, and the sales guy. It was basically just me.

Alec:
I always joke a little bit because there's so many people that very quickly, especially in the Insta-Age become the CEOs and founders of nothing.

David King:
Yeah. King Solutions, LLC.

Alec:
King Solutions. BOOM!

David King:
Yeah. So did that for about six years. But I've told this story a million times, but it was 2007, our kids were roughly eight and six and my wife was known for always, always having a camcorder in her hand, my brother bought me my very first camcorder for a wedding, back in 1999. One of these guys.

Alec:
Yeah. And for the audience, what's a camcorder?

David King:
Right.

Alec:
Some millennials like, "I don't... " What is that?

David King:
Tape-based. It was a tape-based camcorder.

Alec:
[crosstalk 00:03:51] mini tapes.

David King:
So I bought my wife. She always had that video kit. So we've got still to this day, well, I don't think we have VHS, but we had VHS, a closet full of VHS. And then I put it over to digital on DVD. But it was our 10th anniversary I think, or maybe 8th. I was 2007, that was the era when technology was really getting smarter, smaller.

Alec:
Oh, yeah it was wow.

David King:
It was the year that iPhone came out.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
Few years before that is when HD became a thing.

Alec:
Yep.

David King:
And you could still buy 720 TVs, and that the new thing was 1080, 1080i then 1080p.

Alec:
And now they're giving away those TVs.

David King:
They are.

Alec:
Literally it's like you go to Best Buy and they are like, "Would you like a free TV, with your candy bar."

David King:
Exactly. So I bought my wife a new camcorder, a little small digital camcorder, that was the greatest thing in the world.

Alec:
Nice.

David King:
Around the same time bought myself my very first Apple product, iMac. And so I'm playing around with my iMac one night and I open up iMovie. What's iMovie? Quickly figured out that I didn't have any footage to edit with.

Alec:
You've got to have something in there.

David King:
So I'm living in Virginia Beach at the time and I said I want to get some footage so I can play around with this iMovie thing. My wife, my two kids and my mom went down to the beach, Virginia Beach and we played wiffle ball of about an hour.

Alec:
You just filmed them.

David King:
Filmed it. And had my daughter hold the camera sometimes-

Alec:
Nice.

David King:
... and my mom held the camera.

Alec:
Yeah, family event.

David King:
So I went back home and cut together a little two and a half, three minute long video. I thought I was the great thing since last [crosstalk 00:05:36].

Alec:
Of course, it's amazing.

David King:
Put on YouTube, this is before I'm on Facebook. Put on YouTube and a few weeks later I go back to it and it's got, I don't know, 100 views, 200 views, something like that. More than I was expecting. And I was just tickled by that. And so I did another one, kind of the same results. And I was like, " Oh, man I really love this video thing." Telling stories.

Alec:
Oh, my gosh.

David King:
And so that goes on for, I don't know, six months or so. This time I'm going on a pretty large church in Virginia Beach who does media very well. Big stage production and so on. So I decided I would go and see if I could volunteer in their media department, learn a little bit about their trade.

Alec:
There you go.

David King:
And the guy who run media there, they had a TV show and all that stuff.

Alec:
Oh, so big production.

David King:
Big production.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
And so I start volunteering and leaning a little bit more about professional grid. Editing professional grid cameras.

Alec:
And you're still running the ADT business?

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
Okay. Awesome.

David King:
And I had that till 2011, this is all the way back since 2007.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
And they asked me to put together a video that would play during memorial day. And the band would sing a big powerful, emotional song and my video would play timed out to the words and this, that and the other. And the video plays, and there's about 2000 people in the auditorium and songs and big crescendo moment type thing and everyone's on their feet, not because I got together the most amazing video ever. It was obviously out of respect of memorial day.

Alec:
Sure.

David King:
But I looked around and I could see tears in people's eyes. And it was that moment after about, maybe doing a year, just forth or discovery and research and watching YouTube tutorials, teaching myself final cap pro and... It was at that moment that I decided that I'd found something that I really truly was passionate about. I wasn't passionate about my business. I started that business because I was good at what I did and I want to be my own boss and make my own money and have that freedom flexibility, but I really, I'll never own another business. Well, you never know. But I really found something that I was truly passionate about. I discovered something in me that I didn't know was there. And something that brought me fulfillment and joy when I saw the emotion that was being drawn out of this people, after a moment that I helped create.

Alec:
Yeah, experience. That's awesome.

David King:
So that's how, long time ago kind of started in the creative world with a stupid little YouTube wiffle ball movie.

Alec:
It's incredible. Is a star on YouTube?

David King:
It is.

Alec:
It wasn't like I'm going to look in to that.

David King:
No. Don't find it.

Alec:
You won't find it.

David King:
You won't find it.

Alec:
Dude. People have been defining drug time with Alec and smashing.

David King:
Sure. Sure.

Alec:
You're with ball commercials, got nothing.

David King:
So I'll fast forward after that of how I got from there-

Alec:
But I love the inspiration moment. That was incredibly cool. Yeah, what happened?

David King:
I go on a journey. And I told myself, I was out to eat with my brother, father, sister, and I said, "I'm going to find some way to do this for a living." At that point I've been doing, it is mostly a hobby for about a year, maybe a year and a half. I said, "I'm going to find some way to do this for a living because I love it." And so after a while just continuing doing the hobby thing, I started to get a couple phone calls from friends.

Alec:
Gigs.

David King:
The gigs.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
And so then it turned into a side business a freelance type opportunity-

Alec:
Its awesome.

David King:
... while I was doing on nights and weekends. Started making a little bit of money. I invest that into a new camera.

Alec:
Yeah, get the new gear.

David King:
Make a little bit more money, buy a new lens. Make a little bit more money, buy a new lighting kit and so on. And that goes on for about another two years ish. I'm just making up timeframes. But that goes on for about another two years. And this was 2010. Two years after the big mortgage cash.

Alec:
Meltdown.

David King:
Meltdown. And so my business just wasn't going anywhere. And I knew that. And at that point, my business, it turned into a subcontracting business. So I was doing that for ADT. They'd hired my company to do their installs for them. And the day after Christmas, excuse me, 2010, I go in to get my jobs for the next week or month and they said, "We just merged with another large company, big acquisition, no more subcontractors." And so I literally go back to door knocking.

Alec:
Sorry. So there's loan officers by the way that really understand that, because they had their businesses shifted so dramatically in the crisis that was like, oh, it's full reinvention time. Dude, I love that.

David King:
So I go back to door knocking for six months, and it was the most miserable time in my life, after owning a business for five years or so, and then you go back to just kind of grind.

Alec:
Grind, I thought I owned this already.

David King:
Yeah, but I learned a lot about myself during that time. What I was good at, what I wasn't good at. And a good buddy of mine, in the mortgage industry, a loan officer called me up, knew I just hated what I was doing.

Alec:
Yes.

David King:
He said, "Hey, we're hiring for a graphic designer. Do you want to come in and interview?"

Alec:
Yes.

David King:
And you're like, excuse me. I was like... I knew my way around Photoshop, Illustrator, that kind of thing.

Alec:
All self taught.

David King:
All self taught, but I wouldn't classify myself as a designer, graphic designer, but I went in and I said, I'm going to try and convince these guys to let me be a full-time video production staff at their mortgage company.

Alec:
There you go.

David King:
Go in and they're like, "We're mortgage company. We don't need video."

Alec:
Video.

David King:
A full-time video guy. What?

Alec:
By the way, fast forward 10 years and it's so ahead of time.

David King:
Yeah. And I interviewed with the co-founder of the company and, I tried to convince him to hire me as a video guy. He was like, "No, we don't need video, but I think you'd make a great loan officer." Tried to convince me to become a loan officer. I said I've been in sales for 10 years. I'm done. I found-

Alec:
I'm not doing. And I've found your passion.

David King:
I found a passion. That I really was excited and was okay at the time and he said, "No." I walk out and he said, "You ever change your mind, just give me a call." I said the same thing, "You ever change your mind, you want to video to be part of what you do, call me." Type thing. So his others partner, he was in church that weekend watching a video.

Alec:
Weird.

David King:
Yeah, it was about a week. Within the same week or so. And the video moved him emotionally and in church, picks his phone out of his pocket and says, "Hey, partner, next guy you hire in marketing needs to be a video guy." So I come on board as a video guy. And I really honestly thought it was just a stepping stone. I really thought it was just my entry into the whole creative world. And ended up staying there for seven years.

Alec:
Awesome.

David King:
Yeah. And really just, I started that company with me and one other guy. A boy, Trey [Regdan 00:12:42]. He ended up being... Anyway, and left that company and had built a team of, it was about 40 to 50 people all in marketing, communications and a few other things.

Alec:
That's awesome.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
So fast forward now and you took a brief stint serving the real estate community.

David King:
I did.

Alec:
Which is cool.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
Get a little background on our biggest partners and how they market and what their needs and desires are. And then you got sucked back into mortgage.

David King:
I never thought it would happen.

Alec:
Well, so you had that one line, you know line I'm talking about? That it was the greatest line I've ever heard in my life.

David King:
I think so.

Alec:
About loan officers.

David King:
No, I'm not going to say that one.

Alec:
What I appreciate about that admission, and just your heart in the space is that once you get into this business, and you realize the crazy salespeople are amazing human beings who are accomplishing such incredible things and impacting the local community, there really isn't many people like loan officers in the world. They're just a unique, diverse, some are super highly educated, master's degrees, some just came out of high school, and they're just great human beings that are doing crazy stuff. And, yeah, there's love for them. [crosstalk 00:13:55].

David King:
Yeah. Well, I'll tell you the story but it comes from a perspective of respect because I've been in sales before, I've door knocked. I've done the grind type thing. But when you're in sales, the sales are the frontline. Absolutely of have any sales organization. But they are also very needy. They're kind of individual business owners.

Alec:
Yeah, that's a great way to look at it.

David King:
So I worked with loan officers for seven years and took 18 months away from mortgage and started working with real estate agents. And I was interviewing with Jeff Walsh with you, with Dan, and Jeff made the comment. He said, "We love that you've got seven years of mortgage experience, but we really like the fact that you've got 18 months, get your feet wet in the real estate-

Alec:
For sure.

David King:
... industry as well, and I just kind of chuckled that. It wasn't a pre planned statement, but I just chuckled and said, "After 18 months of working with real estate agents, I never thought I'd be so happy to work with loan officers directly again."

Alec:
I love it. I love it.

David King:
I mean, when you're in sales, like I said, I say that in jest.

Alec:
Yeah, for sure.

David King:
Because that's who I serve. I serve our loan officers. They serve real estate partners and much more. But yeah.

Alec:
All right, that was awesome background for people that don't know you, know your history. This is kind of the meat I want to dive into. Branding. Personal branding. Marketing in a contemporary sense. Tons of buzzwords, tons of books on it. We were joking before we hit record on this, it's five years plus of people just branding, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding. And there's a lot of validity behind that and that's important to unpack and understand it. But there's also a lot of confusion around it.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
And so I think people miss identify what that really means, or have general confusion about what to do and so they get distracted maybe about, what really matters in it. And so I'd love for you to share a little bit of your perspective and then I'll share some of mine too. And we can have a dialogue about it. And just, what does branding mean? And loan officers are hearing that word everywhere. What does it mean to you? And how do you see it in your job as the CMO? And just share some insight from that level because I think it will be helpful.

David King:
Yeah, so there's a book, I think it's called the Brand Gap. And it really dives into the concept of the fact that a brand is way more than your logo, your color palette. It really is kind of who you are. And I've used this example a million times. It's one of my favorite TED Talks, third most watched TED Talk out there. World renowned Simon Sinek. The Golden Circle. Who? What? Why? And really, for me, that's branding. That's the best branding talk out there is from Simon Sinek, is really got to understand ultimately who you are. He said most companies can tell you what they do, how they do it. Very few companies are the companies that really truly get it right, is why they do what they do. And some companies define that in their mission statement, some companies define that other ways. But yeah that's what I think when I think of corporate branding is really who are you as a company? More so than just your visual identity. Your style guide. That's a small portion of branding-

Alec:
Style guide.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
For sure, brand book.

David King:
Yeah, brand book. And that's not something that I can change or move the needle on dramatically. And who we are as a company is our founder, Anthony Hsieh.

Alec:
For sure.

David King:
And I see loanDepot and Anthony Hsieh as being synonymous.

Alec:
Yeah. I mean, it's hard not to, he's got a big voice in the industry. He's out in front on a lot of stuff, especially on social media. And so, you can make the connection.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
But I love what you said and I want to unpack a little bit. A lot of loan officers tend to fall back to the how and the what? I provide home loans, I'm a five star service guy or girl. I give good rates. I have a lot of products. I close fast. All that stuff is the what and how surrounding their brand, which they're not necessarily identifying, which is, the why. So I think that if you're listening and you heard, David unpack that a little bit, it's a reflective point for you. What is your why that is the center of how and what you're doing? Because until somebody can connect to that, they don't care how fast you can close a loan, or how good your product depth is. You haven't identified it for him. You're a commodity almost. So I think that's a really core message. I don't think people want to hear it very often.

David King:
You the second time, I sat down with Anthony, five, six months ago. We met for breakfast at a little restaurant. And he used the phrase several times throughout the 70, 80 minutes when I was with him, he kept on saying the phrase delight the customer that's our goal or mission and so on. It really stuck out to me. And it's not our mission statement. But it's really Anthony's desire to really delight the customer. How do you do that?

Alec:
Yeah, is hard? Yeah.

David King:
You equip loan officers with best in class tech, best marketing?

Alec:
Yeah. Best form and position. Yeah.

David King:
Yeah. So there's so many variables to that to ultimately delight your customer, but that's at the core of who we are. And that's true or it should be true for every company out there. But when you dive into that significantly and what that means in every channel of our business and vertical of our business then it truly... The great companies figure that out in every aspect.

Alec:
I want to go back and talk about the brand concept again and come at from a different angle because I think it'd be helpful. And in our chat before I hit record, it's so funny that we do the exact same thing with showcasing brands to people. So for those of you that don't know or if you come to loanDepot, you've known because I've done it for a long time. There's a certain slide at NewHire where I throw up big, recognizable corporate brand logos, just a logo, just a logo.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
And then I asked the NewHire group to go through and share their emotional or one word response to what they're seeing just right off the head. Don't think about it, just what comes out of your mouth, and you do the same thing. And so when you're doing it, what are you trying to showcase and explain when you're doing that to a group?

David King:
I'm not sure if you do this or not, but I will usually show two logos within, either same industry or the same realm. And I'll usually, depending on... I've done this maybe five times or so, in front of a small group, large group. And I want to draw out the emotional response that you get from a brand.

Alec:
So emotional response.

David King:
Emotional response.

Alec:
That's a key word right there for people listening.

David King:
So I'll sometimes use region specific logos-

Alec:
Of course.

David King:
... or I'll pick two NFL teams.

Alec:
Yes. Where you know there's emotional connection. Someone's pissed.

David King:
Yeah. Or I'll show like a McDonald's versus a Ruth's Chris. You get that [crosstalk 00:21:45], or the quality type thing. So I use that as an example of what branding is, and it's the feeling that you get.

Alec:
Oh, so good.

David King:
Logo is a part of your identity-

Alec:
That's right.

David King:
... but it's more about the feeling that you get when you associate in your mind a particular brand. And so that's really the goal of that exercise. Done it maybe four to six times or so. And it's a fun exercise.

Alec:
It is. And if you're listening and you're a loan officer working on branding for yourself, this is a core message. I think a lot of people get caught up in, to your point, the brand guidelines, the color, the look, the logo, the tagline, and what they're either missing or not paying attention to enough because those things aren't bad, is just the underlying reality of, this becomes that emotional connection with the people that you're talking to, your sphere of influence your community online, your local families, they're going to have an emotional response to you, not to your tagline. Doesn't invalidate the tagline. But if you miss focusing on the emotional thing, So one of the brands I do at NewHire is Amazon. It's a massive brand. And by the way, can you picture the logo in your head.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
Okay, because I'm such a dumb-dumb sales guy.

David King:
Yeah. Took you a while to figure it out.

Alec:
The little-

David King:
A to Z.

Alec:
A to Z, I thought was a smile.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
I was such an idiot. Someone told that to me and I was like, "I'm dumb."

David King:
You know the FedEx one right?

Alec:
No.

David King:
You don't know the FedEx logo?

Alec:
No, I can picture it.

David King:
You'll never look at it the same.

Alec:
Oh, why?

David King:
There's a forward moving arrow.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
It's cutout of the X, I believe.

Alec:
Okay.

David King:
And so next time you look at it, the only thing you'll be able to see is that arrow.

Alec:
Is that arrow.

David King:
Like they are moving forward.

Alec:
This is why sales people are special.

David King:
Do you know what's hidden in the loanDepot logo? Nothing. No, it's the L on the D, of course, but no. I'm kidding.

Alec:
If you don't know hidden there than we... Yeah, I can't tell you it's a secret. My point is, Amazon's a well known brand, a lot of people are users of them for a variety of things. And the immediate reaction I get from most of the people in NewHire is this feeling of, it's not euphoric, that's too happy. But it's a nice, warm. And what it is, is this expectation of this box, they're getting delivered. I think it ties back into when we used to get snail mail and a package from somebody, and it ties back into all those emotions that a lot of people had. And I'm sure the next generations will experience it differently because it's so used to it. But a lot of us, we didn't get packages all the time. And now when we get them, it's like, it connects to like an older emotion. I think that's part of the power of the brand.

David King:
100%.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
And it comes... One of the things I talk about all the time is authenticity. So you can't be something you're not. Whether it's a video, whether it's your mission statement, it's got to be true to who you are.

Alec:
And that's hard for salespeople because a lot of us are chameleons. We want to show up in certain ways to get a deal. And I wrestled with this early in my career where, there's a lot of different types of real estate agents. So I would try to be everybody for everybody.

David King:
Cater to your audience.

Alec:
Yeah. The social agents that wanted to go out and drink at three. I tried try to hang and like, "Oh, yeah, I love that." Even though I hate that, like, I have no desire to do that at all. I didn't.

David King:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Alec:
Thank you. Maybe with certain people. But I'm not into small talk. So if you ever took the disc test, profile test, personal profile test.

David King:
I did not when I came on board at loanDepot.

Alec:
But long story short is I'm a D, which is... My best realtors were like, turn on the egg timer and be like, "You have two minutes to tell me why I should work with you. Let's go." The ones who want to spend four days hanging out and talking about our kids and our... I'm like, "You don't care. I don't care. Let's move on." But this is very personality oriented. And so you say be authentic. And, I think for a lot of salespeople that can be hard. We kind of mask ourselves. We show up as product experts, show up as, we have every tool, we're ready to go, we have to always be perfect. I feel that very hard.

David King:
Yeah. You got to stay in your lane.

Alec:
So how does a loan officer do that? What advice would you give them?

David King:
Well, we were talking about this earlier. I think for the last probably seven years, my role has been to really elevate the overarching brand.

Alec:
So let's talk about that for a second. Because I always end with letting whoever's here give some insight down to the sales level. And I know you got some cool stuff to share. You just launched a really cool campaign for loanDepot.

David King:
NextX.

Alec:
NextX.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
Which is pretty epic. So explain what it is. Because I still think people are wondering, if someone's listening who's not part of the company or a past customer of ours, maybe they can get some insight here.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
What are we doing?

David King:
So again, before I joined loanDepot, but when I was having these conversations with Anthony, he put it on my radar pretty quickly that we're coming up to a 10 year anniversary. And the size and scale that we've reached so far as an organization in 10 years is incredible. So he really wanted to celebrate that 10th anniversary in a unique way.

Alec:
It's a big deal.

David King:
Part of what I do is events, love events.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
And so we started having the conversations. We'll fly everyone to Orange County. We'll have a big party celebration, and then we're like, "Is that really honoring this achievement the best way possible?" Does it bring lift to the organization? We're not going to spend all this money if it really is just a two hour party type thing." So then we went back to the drawing board and maybe we'll fly-

Alec:
Pockets.

David King:
The pockets. Six cities across the country and we'll have these many parties, similar install type thing and we'll all cheers, a glass of champagne toast type thing, because we knew that everyone couldn't come out to Orange County, but is that really honoring this massive milestone the best we know how. So then we really just, again went back to the drawing board. And we wanted this to have impact to loanDepot, to its employees, its teammates. We said, "What's the best way we can impact people's lives?" And so then that's when Anthony came up with the idea of the Sweepstakes. We can't touch everything. "Would it be cool if I send you a nextX hat T-shirt?" "Sure." Might end up in the trash. Let's really figure out a way to impact people's lives. And so that's where we came up with the concept. Anthony, give him all the credit. We'll honor 18 people, 10 customers 10 loanDepot employees. [crosstalk 00:28:43].

Alec:
I actually love the balance of that. That feels right to me.

David King:
We couldn't have gotten here without both.

Alec:
Yeah, you need both.

David King:
Yeah. So let's honor 10 customers, 10 employees. Nine customers and nine employees in a pretty impactful way. $10,000.

Alec:
Yeah, that's a lot of money.

David King:
Yeah, every month starting in March, we'll announce the winner all the way through December, the two grand prize winners in December, we're going to pay off their mortgage. It's so cool up to $250,000. Because I just talked about that you got to put the disclosure at the end of this video.

Alec:
Do we really?

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
Yeah, you do. Okay. There's a Sweepstakes, Mike. Don't let me forget.

David King:
There you go. And so that we will impact-

Alec:
By the way, thanks for ruining the podcast.

David King:
You're welcome. We will impact 18 people's lives. And Anthony said this, we will change two people's lives, one employee, one member of team loanDepot, and he kept on talking about when he was pitching me the idea that the next 10, the next 10, the next 10, he doesn't want the first decade, the first 10 years to look like the next decade, the next 10 years and I just came up with the brand theme, nextX.

Alec:
So this is a cool pivot comment because you just hit the nail on the head here. Things change.

David King:
All the time.

Alec:
So from a branding and a marketing perspective, things evolve.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
So we've just come through 10 years, we're going into another 10 years and things are going to change. And a lot of our loan people understand this, because a lot of them came through crisis in 2008 through 2010. And they know what change means. They've had to do it themselves.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
So how do you see a brand's evolution? How do you see loanDepot as brand evolution? What does that mean? And where does it go? Does it become so amorphous, you can't control it? Or you just... What's your insight into that space?

David King:
How much more hair did you have? 10 years ago?

Alec:
Yeah, I've had a big forehead for a long time.

David King:
How has life changed for you in 10 years? Seriously.

Alec:
Well, so it's funny. I just spoke at my high school today. So I graduated in 2000. And so it's 2020 and I got asked to come speak to around 50, 60 kids at the FBLA, which is the Future Business Leaders of America club. And it was a wild experience for me. Because I stood up on the little stage, had like a little speaking stage. And I looked at the kids there and I was like, "Oh, that used to be me." I even went to the gym to see if they still had my trophies from the previous sports glory days. And, yeah, I mean, I've changed dramatically, from that little guy there to this guy now.

David King:
Do you think you could have, back then, said you were... I won't out your age. Back then, 10 years ago.

Alec:
I'm 38. You can add it's okay. I love myself.

David King:
So at 28 years old, do you think you could have really looked 10 years in the future and really known that you were sitting in this seat today and doing what you're doing?

Alec:
No chance.

David King:
Same thing for businesses, it's evolution, it's iterative type process. And I don't claim to know where our brand is going to be in 10 years. But I do know it'll be different. And I talk about this all the time about companies do evolve, and you have to be open to change. And I've been through challenges in my life where I've been open to change and some experiences life where I've had blinders on, and I haven't seen the bigger picture. So as our company evolves throughout the next 10 years, I think we just mature. If you look at a 10 year old kid and how much maturity happens when they're 10 years old versus 20, there's a lot of a lot of maturity that happens and growing up, I think it'll be similar for us. So yeah, no idea. I will be the first to tell you when I don't have the answer. But it will change, our voice will change. I think our core will still be the same as Anthony's in the seat he's in. He's driving. He's steering the ship, driving the ship.

Alec:
Yeah. He likes ship analogies.

David King:
There you go.

Alec:
A lot of boats. But I will say this too, for anybody who's, if that feels too uncertain for people, our actions also dictate where we walk towards. There would be no Modern Lending Podcast, if there wasn't 100 videos and 100 days from me. There would be no 100 videos and 100 days if there was no Modern Lending playbook for me. For a lot of our loan officers who are building their business, there would be no Alec in this business, if Dawn Abrams down in the coast didn't take a chance on a 23 year old kid, and give him the opportunity to earn his referral business. And that wouldn't have happened if I didn't show up every freaking day and harass the guy relentlessly to work with me. Patience is such a key word here that I lack to the ends of the earth, like I have zero patience. But man, when you look back at all of it, it does start adding up, and action begets action. And the more you lean into it, the more we have control, or at least some influence on where the destination becomes.

David King:
I think to really build something special. Some other projects I've been at, at other companies, 12, 18, 24 month long projects in the marketing world, and patience is the key, but also knowing where you're going.

Alec:
Vision.

David King:
Having that vision, which is passed down from leadership. But there's not a brand out there today that I can think of that is a world renowned brand that happened overnight or even in five or 10 years.

Alec:
No doubt.

David King:
Patience is the key and being open to that change.

Alec:
So let's do this. Let's slightly pivot and I would love for you to start to share how you view branding and marketing and that little acronym thing you were talking to me about earlier, I think it's going to have tremendous value for people. I think it's going to be helpful. And I think this is the note taking time PS. So if you're listening and you're driving, pullover, so you can scratch some notes down somewhere, or just hit pause and it'll be safe. This is good stuff, because I want people to hear it, have a chance to marinate on it, see how it can fit into what they're striving for. I mean, we are talking about executing patients, having vision for what you want to create. And I think you have some good messaging on this.

David King:
Yeah. So I gave a 15 minute talk in front of a decent size group last year. And I really wanted to get across the two things, what is the brand and the power of storytelling. And I started by saying, not storytelling in the movie-making style or any of that, but storytelling with a business agenda, with a goal. How do you make more money? How do you get more leads? How do you get more referral partners?

Alec:
Yep. Get more influence? Yep.

David King:
Yeah. So I wrote down one night, I was like, I'll come up with an acronym for brand and some key elements that I use in my day to day and the first one was to be brave. And I gave the example of Steve Jobs. When he first launched, you can probably pick any number of Steve Jobs projects, but especially the iPhone.

Alec:
Yeah, I almost jump on you, that's the biggest thing that they're known for, I mean that changed the whole face of the company.

David King:
Changed the face of the world.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
It really did. But the amount of probably hundreds of millions of dollars that they had to put in R&D for that. And I showed a clip of, I'm not sure if you've seen this. I showed a clip to make light of the situation but Steve Ballmer, ex CEO of Microsoft, he was interviewed on camera the same week that iPhone launched. It was all the buzz it was-

Alec:
Hug.

David King:
... everyone was talking about it. The Jesus phone they called it. Yeah, it was huge. And someone asked him about iPhone and he just laughed, he was like, "A phone that it's not going to appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard."

Alec:
Yep.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
That's what he believed.

David King:
And the entire 1,300 people, after they saw that clip of Steve Ballmer, knowing now 10, 12 years later, what the iPhone has done for business, for social and communication, it's laughable. So my point was to be brave. And that looks different for every person. [crosstalk 00:37:25].

Alec:
Yeah, but I love it as a starting point. I love it as a starting point because it's the truth. And by the way, people need to hear it more often. Because some of us and some of my team and some other loan officers out there have achieved a certain level of success that you should be proud of. And you're not being brave anymore. And I see it and I can tell. I can tell when somebody is not being brave anymore where they're just refusing to do the hard work anymore. And their business just starts to degrade. And I love that you're starting with brave I think it's important, I think it's overlooked, and it's a core aspect.

David King:
Right. And that means something different for me as a marketing professional than it does for a sales professional. It means something different but from a marketing perspective. The second one was our brand research, do your research, know your audience. Know who your customer is. Know what they want. Know what wakes them up every day. Do your research, know your audience. So important.

Alec:
Well, and massively important because we all should admit that we can't be everything for everybody. And if we can spend the time to understand what kind of realtor professional do I want to work with? What kind of customer do I feel best lead to serve? And we really define that part of our audience, we can curate our business and really do what we need to do. I know there's a lot of people that are pulled in so many different directions, trying to be everything for everybody, right? And if they just [inaudible 00:38:52] some research and really focused it in on and reverse engineered, they probably a lot happier and a lot more successful.

David King:
Yeah. I gave an example. Of what not to do.

Alec:
Oh yeah, I'm in.

David King:
J. C. Penney.

Alec:
Sorry, I'm laughing already. What did they do? What's the story?

David King:
This was somewhere around 2014. Something like that. They wiped out their executive team, brought in a whole new team to really rethink who they were.

Alec:
Okay. What year was this?

David King:
14.

Alec:
14 ish.

David King:
2014. But a company that really has been around for more than 100 years. Right?

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
So this was back when Best Buy started standing up little stores within a store type thing, right?

Alec:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David King:
And Best Buy's killing it, I think. But they took the same model. One of the executives that came on board with J. C. Penney, was one of the guys that was pretty instrumental during the iPad and the iPhone launch. So a new Apple executive. We're going to redefine who we are. They're their clientele was about a 55 year old female. That was their key demographic. The demographic that, I don't want to stereotype, but, they like coupons, they like sales. Type of thing.

Alec:
Yep. They're your customer.

David King:
They came up with a new logo, they came up with a TV commercial, a whole brand. And they got rid of all sales, no more promotions, no more sales, little niche stores within a store, a high-end shopping experience type thing. They didn't do the research, they probably did, but they overlooked it and they didn't know who their key demographic, their audience, their customer was and their sales plummeted. And they almost went, I don't know if they almost went out of business, but they had severe hardship and then they went back to the way it was. So do your research. That's a really good example of how to do your research.

Alec:
Yeah. All right. So we have B.

David King:
B, R.

Alec:
R, research, right?

David King:
A, authentic. And we touched on this earlier. You can try and be an Alec Hanson and do 100 and videos in a 100 days, but if you're not really comfortable in front of the camera, do something that works for you.

Alec:
I like that. I agree with that message.

David King:
Right. I mean, you're good on camera. Not everyone is. And it takes baby steps. I think everyone can be but it's not for everyone.

Alec:
It's a developed skill. For sure.

David King:
It is. It is. So yeah, just really, truly be authentic to yourself. Understand what you're good at, and lean in all the way on that.

Alec:
Yeah, I think authenticity can't be underscored enough. I think it's one of the biggest and most important ways to connect with humans to your why, if you bring your authentic why out? I'll give a story. I got stories too. We actually hired this guy. And so I'm not going to name names but he was out on a recruiting trip to loanDepot. We fly people out. We hang out with them.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
And when we sat down to dinner, his real passion started to come out of what he really wants to do. He came through the foster system. He's personally fostering a lot of kids. He has a tremendous passion and heart, he wants to buy this facility to create a place where, once kids come out or graduate out or grow out of the foster system, they don't have a job, they can come and they can get housed, and they can learn some kind of trade skill. And they can launch from this facility. And as he shared that to me, I looked at him I'm like, "Dude, I did my Facebook stalking before we had dinner. I looked you up? I looked you up on all the platforms. I had no clue. This is what turns you on. Like, this is why you get out of bed every day." Why are these things not connected? I know in your head, every commission check is going to build this thing. Why is this not connected for the world to see?
And by the way, it wasn't just me, Dan was there and we were all leaning on this guy but, it was really incredible to watch because it's starting to come together now and I'm seeing it now. And I'm inspired, his authentic self is really shining through, he's not just a mortgage sales guy, he's got a mission from the Lord and he's going to go execute and it's really cool. So I really encourage everybody on this authentic thing. Same thing with this girl in San Diego. She was listening to a lot of my talk on branding and she was like, it connected in a really cool way where she said, "What do I want to do when I retire? Well I want to help women and make them financially literate and financial fitness." And, why am I waiting till I retire? Why? Why don't you do this right now? And so she started put a curriculum together start finding other badass women, CPAs and financial planners and state planners and she's put on all these workshops for women. It's so awesome.
And so I just think that finding your authentic self and letting it out and letting it connect and being a human, like a whole human, it changes the game.

David King:
I think it goes back to when I was telling my story of how I got into creative.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
Really the light bulb moment going off in my head where I found something that I was truly passionate about. I started my security company because again, I wanted to be my own boss. I want to make my own money and not work for the guy.

Alec:
The man.

David King:
The man. The guy.

Alec:
It's the guy now, used to be the man, has now become the guy.

David King:
Yeah. But then truly found something that brought me joy and happiness. And I wanted to be authentic to what I wanted in life, and led me to where I am now.

Alec:
So we hit brave. We hit research. We hit authentic. What's next?

David King:
North star.

Alec:
Go ahead, break it down.

David King:
Yeah. It goes back to the whole conversation around brand and who you are. And some people, like I said, maybe that's defining your mission statement. Maybe it's a purpose statement. Maybe it's none of the above. But it really is, find that North star. Why do you do what you do? If you can actually put it in words, that will filter its way into your marketing.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
It just becomes all encompassing. No, I've seen it turn companies around when they can truly articulate why they do what they do. Whether it's a mission statement, whether it's a rebrand, whether it's... Whatever it is, truly find that North star and define who you are as a company, why you do what you do?

Alec:
Yeah. Yeah, I think those two examples too. I was touching on already, they've connected and their why shining through. And it's not just a mortgage anymore, it's a purpose.

David King:
Right.

Alec:
Last.

David King:
Last one's a little bit more tactical. So diversity.

Alec:
Okay.

David King:
Be diverse in your marketing efforts.

Alec:
Yeah. Yeah, no, this is really important.

David King:
The whole world of omnichannel now.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
Yeah. So not too much to dig in there. But that's kind of a no brainer.

Alec:
No. And it is a lot to dig in there. Because, if you look how I got my business in 2003 when I started, it was 100% from real estate professionals, some from friends and family, but I was 23, so what? They're never going to trust me. They shouldn't trust me anyway. And for years, I got all my business from real estate professionals. I started to get some from my past customers because I started actually have some, which is good. But I was not diversified. That was it.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
But today, fast forward, not only are real estate professional, still a great partnership to have, but there's home builders totally different avenue for different people. There's obviously our past customers, there's direct to customer interaction and influence on social media and digital marketing. There's direct to customer access through local marketing. You've got, at loanDepot, we can partner with HR companies and do employee benefit packages. We can partner with credit unions and have them broker... It goes on and on. And I think diversification is a huge way to insulate yourself from market swings and sanity, but it just takes a little bit of willingness to go get uncomfortable again and be brave.

David King:
Sure.

Alec:
And put yourself out there to grow those.

David King:
Right. Yeah. I think there's, of course, those are not the only five things that I practice in branding, but that's kind of wrapping it up into those five letters. Those are five big key elements that I think if you get those right, you'll be on the right track. And five cornerstone pieces that I've used just in my marketing career.

Alec:
Awesome.

David King:
Yep.

Alec:
All right. So we're running down. That was a huge gift to everybody else paying attention. So just acronym brand and how it works. So we already unpacked that, but is there anything else that you feel excited about, like to share, that the Salesforce out there, the leadership out there that's listening should know about?

David King:
I think it all goes back to our nextX conversation and around the fact that there's probably only one company out there, a mortgage company that is a household name. And that's because they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, consumer facing marketing.

Alec:
Oh, yeah.

David King:
I hear that all the time that no one's heard of us. We're in all 50 states. I think there's a massive opportunity. And I think that's part of why I'm here, is to really help us become just that trusted, known name in the mortgage industry. Lots of great companies out there. How do we uniquely position ourselves as a trusted advisor?

Alec:
There's huge power in brand. I always describe it as a coin. One side of the coin is your company brand. And it needs to help you. And one side of the coin is you as a human being and your personal brand.

David King:
Yeah.

Alec:
And I've been at certain companies where the company side of the coin was not as strong, potentially. But I've also been part of countrywide and when that brand became a national household name over time, it was massively helpful for me as an originator to walk out there with that jersey on, and people would instantly Connect me to the power of that brand. And it matters. And you're right, I think there's a huge opportunity ahead for loanDepot to lean into that space and earn that national seat, it's able.

David King:
Familiarity with customers when they see that brand, that logo, that name and they've heard of it. My neighbor used them, my aunt used them, the bigger we become, the more powerful we are. And there's a bit of a snowball effect with that.

Alec:
So how long till that's done? A couple of weeks?

David King:
Two months.

Alec:
Two months it'll be handled.

David King:
I've been here for, six months [crosstalk 00:50:20].

Alec:
Two months. I had to be sure. I'm writing that down right now.

David King:
I do say that. But I also have a massive amount of respect that the work has been done in the first 10 years and I take nothing away. We've become the number two company. And I asked Anthony question I said, before I joined, I said, "You've already got, I mean, you're the number two, non-bank lender out there. You've got a good thing going, why do you need me?" I said, "You don't need me." He laughs, he said, "The company doesn't need me anymore." Jokingly of course.

Alec:
Yeah, of course, I get it.

David King:
And so, we've got a good thing going and I'm massively being a member of this organization now. I'm massively proud of what came before me and couldn't be more grateful. I would have assured here had that hard work not been done with people that are with the company now and some people that have left the company.

Alec:
Sure, sure.

David King:
Some hard work has been put into where we are now. And I don't take that lightly because the brand is now my responsibility, under Anthony and Jeff's leadership. So I don't take that lightly. And, I don't presume to think that I can give the company a new face type thing. No plastic surgery.

Alec:
Yeah.

David King:
Yeah, just let the heartbeat go.

Alec:
Yeah. So this is awesome. I want to make sure I say this in closing guys. Really, when you look at brand, taglines, color schemes, logos, all that's has a place, it's honored, respected. But really when you're focusing on your brand and what you want to do, think about your heartbeat. Think about what makes you tick, and what emotions your brand is going to be perceived, and how are people going to experience it? And I think the more you play in that space, the closer you're going to get to the actions and the results you want to drive in your life. I guess that's right, one, two punch.

David King:
Agreed. Well said.

Alec:
All right, guys. So we're wrapping up. Thank you very much. If you have value if you like this, if you don't like this, don't worry about it. But if you did, subscribe, like, share, spread the message. I appreciate you guys. We are out.

David King:
Peace.


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