How M1 Finance set itself apart from competitors

The fintech company’s brand messaging aimed to convey stability in the wake of the Robinhood controversy.

In late January, controversy surrounded stock trading app Robinhood after it restricted trading of GameStop stock as Reddit users boosted shares.  

For M1 Finance, a financial platform that offers investing, borrowing and spending, the moment was ripe for growth, as long as the messaging was right.  

“[M1] is focused on using long-term investing principles to grow wealth,” explained Bob Armour, CMO at M1 Finance.  

To attract users to its services, the fintech app joined forces with Bader Rutter to put out a creative campaign centered around building wealth the “right way” and rejecting the “day-trading mania” that characterizes its competitors. 

“In the middle of all the hype and craziness that was going on in the market, we wanted to create something that was very true to who we are,” Armour said.  

The campaign, which ran on television, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WhyIM1, leaned on monologues from actors and alliteration using the letter “M” to describe why they use M1, including statements that they “prefer more method, less madness.”

M1 Finance also did giveaways on social media that offered a chance to win $1,000 and M1 swag to those who posted their own monologue with #WhyIM1.  

The campaign quickly attracted new consumers, resulting in a threefold increase in new sign-ups in January 2021 as opposed to the previous month, and 250% growth in new sign-ups just between January 26 and February 8.  

M1 reached No. 10 in the App Store’s finance category and No. 84 overall on February 8 as the Robinhood and GameStop frenzy reached its peak.

“It's hard to make responsibility sexy. [It’s] not flashy,” explained Dennis Ryan, executive creative director at Bader Rutter. “But by having the monologue [using the M] it allowed [the creative] to be branded so that even if you didn't catch the whole name it'll pop up in SEO and SEM and make sure that people could find this.” 

In January 2020, M1 had $800 million of total assets on the one platform, but it has since grown to $3.6 billion of assets.  

M1 brought in its third significant round of funding in less than a year with $75 million in a Series D at the beginning of March. 


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