Sun West CEO Pavan Agarwal and his team at Celligence – the tech affiliate of his family’s company, Sun West Mortgage – spent years building up an artificial intelligence program that they lovingly named Morgan. Morgan was, according to Agarwal, a hybrid of the phrases “Mortgage Can” and “Mortgage Magician.”
Known as Agarwal’s brainchild, Morgan was rolled out in October 2021 as a Sun West internal product for all employees to use. In September 2022, the product opened beyond Sun West’s borders: every licensed mortgage professional could use it, even if they didn’t work with Sun West. And more recently, Agarwal invited real estate agents to climb on the Morgan train.
To put it lightly, Agarwal and his team lived and breathed Morgan. The Sun West team arrived at events decked out in Morgan T-shirts and hats and a regional commercial aired during Super Bowl LVII advertising what Morgan can do – not just for the mortgage business, but for all. Morgan’s logo – a graceful ballerina – danced across countless Morgan advertisements and reminded audiences that like a ballerina, Morgan is a graceful, well-trained product. That is, of course, before Morgan died.
Cue The Record Scratch.
Agarwal’s product is undergoing a large rebrand, which means that the Morgan name – once clad with a distinct, first-of-its-kind reputation – is now obsolete. And remember those t-shirts and hats advertising Morgan’s name? Agarwal says they’re en route to a shelter.
Sun West’s credo is currently out with the old and in with the new. Enter Morgan’s new name: Angel Ai, which Agarwal says is a better representation of what his product can do and who it can serve. The product still has the same poised ballerina logo and similar branding – the team stuck with the same marketing company – but Agarwal says that the new name will attract other businesses without the pressure of being within the realm of financial services.
“Morgan … was too mortgage centric, which was rightfully so since it was started at a mortgage company,” Agarwal explained. “But the larger business model of Celligence isn’t mortgage centric: it’s tech. We’ve seen interest from national organizations and even multi-level marketing companies who want to use the product for lead generating.”
The Train Rolls Onward
Agarwal reflected on the early origins of Morgan. The machine-learning tool still can act as a financial services platform and as an originator; the interface can still do the functions it performed before such as offer appraisal and loan statuses, calculate income, and change the terms of the loan — all in multiple languages.
“We created an AI that works in every scenario of a mortgage, and if any new products come out we update the rules and training. We hyper-simplified the mortgage process and I thought if I can simplify this process for mortgages I can do it for any process,” Agarwal mused. “But the last thing a Realtor wants to talk about is mortgages, so Morgan wasn't resonating beyond the mortgage companies.”
Agarwal says that the name Morgan never really stuck. For one, it’s a gender-neutral Welsh name that doesn’t translate well in other languages, Agarwal claims. And he says that Morgan’s customers referred to the tool as a personal assistant and even guardian more than they were calling it a mortgage system.
“When we launched the Super Bowl ad, I talked at the launch party about how Morgan will be everyone’s personal assistant. I quoted a Harvard study that said 41% of the average person’s day is spent doing things that a personal assistant could do for them,” Agarwal explained. “This was always the plan… to give affordable access to a personal assistant.”
But Agarwal’s plan for Morgan to be available to everyone wasn’t going to work with a name that didn’t make sense to consumers. Angel, Agarwal says, is translatable in several languages and is more understood by his Spanish customer base – which makes up a large pool of business. Coincidentally enough, the composer for Angel Ai’s classical jingle is named Angel 'Cucco' Pena, and Agarwal said that he largely influenced the final name decision. “The response has been phenomenal because we don't have to explain what Angel Ai is,” Agarwal explained. “Morgan was a barrier in the sale because it didn't teach people what it was. They had to dig deeper to find out what Morgan stood for.”
Of course, change doesn’t affect just the name. Agarwal says that Angel Ai is rolling out a number of features, including a fully integrated e-sign program called Ai Sign which will allow remote signing of documents. Among the other features are easy-to-use financial calculators, access to the latest interest rate data, and credit approval in minutes for a large variety of consumer loan products, including mortgages, consumer loans, and auto loans
Not An Easy Task
But new features aside, the rebrand is a strenuous task. Martha Bartlett Piland, founder and CEO of Banktastic and a certified financial marketing professional (CFMP) says that embarking on a rebrand is more than picking out new colors or a flashy logo. Bartlett Piland, who does brand coaching at her business and is not affiliated with Sun West, says that it’s best to start internally when trying to accomplish a successful rebrand.
“When I work with a client or advise someone, we really want to look at what is it they want to accomplish and why are they rebranding? Did they make a mistake or are they trying to grow and appeal to new markets?,” she explained. “You need to look at your current audience and ask what do they know, believe, and think about us, and what do our employees know and believe and think about us?”
And in Angel Ai’s case, the rebrand needs to consider the new audiences. “If we want to reach new markets, what do they think about our competitors? Do they have any awareness of us? What needs do they have that are not being filled?,” Bartlett Piland said. “So if we can do the research and ask the hard questions before we start creating new names and logos, then we’ve got a better chance of success.”