Archive for September, 2009

Question: What is your bank’s brand/image?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

web site photos 044If there is an industry that needs to review it’s branding efforts, this is the one.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With the financial meltdown that is continuing to occur, and the over abundance of bad press that financial executives seem to garner, this seems a place for the attention of all banking professionals.  With the crisis still  in sway, it would seem that most financial institutions are keeping their heads down.  If they’re not  mentioned in the  press, then things must be okay.  That kind of heads-in-the-sand thinking  may be disastrous.  (A reminder of the Valdez crisis might give this service industry something to think about.)

And why would re-branding  be a good subject to contemplate?

Well first, lets remember that banks are highly regulated.  And that’s not all bad.  I’m tired of viewing too many bank ad campaigns that have nothing to do with being responsible for their customer’s money.   But because of such extensive regulation, the mind set is for bankers to toe the line.  Keep things quiet.  Unfortunately what’s missing is any kind of differentiation from one bank to the next.  Yes there is a difference between a community bank and a regional/national bank. Usually extended varieties of service.  But that’s about it.

And what is a good example of a bank with a unique image?

Wells Fargo Bank comes to mind.  Scenes from the Old West.  Stagecoaches.  Historical significance.  So why would anyone want to do business with that kind of an institution?  First, for a number of years they’ve been saying “We deliver. Always have.”    This imagery ties its historical (emotional) image to its financial promise.  Once done, that image works in a very different way.  Like branding and image-building works for other service and product industries.  After all, Home Depot’s image doesn’t revolve around a hardware store concept.  It goes way beyond just supplying things for your house!

Any banking entity can have a unique image.  And it doesn’t have to be like every other bank’s identity.  Names can change.  New promises can be made.  A new focus can be addressed.  And the customer base will welcome it.  Customers are use to every other product reinventing itself.   Why not your friendly banker down the street?  I don’t mean new slogans.  There are thousands of slogans.  What they need to do is figure out who they serve, and focus on that markets’ needs.   And start by bringing a new story –  an image – for that market to begin to understand and appreciate.  And in today’s competitive demand for a clear and specific brand, consumers will welcome a new awareness of what makes that bank different.   It will keep customers.  And attract new ones!  Over time, that will be a continually welcomed addition to bottom line profitability.

More about this later.