Banks and Their Brands

The Marketing Doctor says:

Banks Need To Get Serious About Their Brands!

 

If there is ever a case for the absolute necessity of getting branding right, it has got to be a bank.  After all, a bank never has all of its depositors’ money on hand at any one time.  If it did, then it would be a very bad bank since it would be unable to generate any returns for itself or its depositors.

What this means from this old marketer’s vantage point is that a bank is always operating on brand image.  Why?  Because a bank must project security, stability and conservatism.  And it has to project this brand clearly because a bank is really just one depositor panic away from going out business.   

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my bank to be wild and crazy or warm and fuzzy, I want it to keep my money safe.  The Wamu advertisements you know the ones, where the enlightened Wamu guy tries to turn the old guard bankers into “new” bankers— are funny and clever, but they project exactly the wrong image for a bank.  Wamu’s not the only one… most banks have been bending over backwards to show just how approachable and fun they are over the last few years. 

That’s all going to have to change.  

Fact is, when the going gets tough like it is now with IndyMac in Southern California shutting down and panicked depositors lining up down the block and more bank problems certain to come—  I want those old guard bankers looking over their spectacles at me and saying things like, “Our balance sheet is sound, sir, and your money is well-protected.”  Amen. 

I can hear the peanut gallery now: What does bank brand matter after all, the FDIC has us covered? 

Sure, the FDIC is a great thing, but I don’t want to find myself doing business with the government because my bank has just collapsed.  They seem to be handling the IndyMac debacle well (see that article here), but there is more trouble to come, and why not be certain that your money’s in the best possible place?

This is why what banks need to do now is turn lemon into lemonade.  They need to confront the uncertainty out there head on, but without causing alarm (and without, in the process, hurting their brands in this market, a bank saying that its depositors have nothing to worry about makes depositors worry).    

Basically, what’s called for is a consistent and long-term brandover in which the strength, endurance and longevity of the bank is underscored and promoted without ringing those alarm bells.   

I’m certain that we’ll soon be seeing more and more bank advertisements with serious themes.  And these advertisements of the “when E.F. Hutton talks everyone listens” variety are fine, but in this new age in which marketing is the new advertising, banks must also embrace dynamic campaigns that are aimed at helping their clients and attracting new clients while sending out the message that they are sound and dependable institutions.

One way to do this would be through a campaign that would promote savings and the long-term effectiveness of compound interest.  A bank could give depositors very attractive introductory interest rates (the flip side of the credit card come-on that they’ve been doing for years!) and develop customized savings packages that would help depositors build their savings around their means while sending the message loud and clear that this bank at least is solid and cares about every nickel and dime. 

Banks could reach out to their current customer base with these offers as well as run comprehensive advertising and promotional campaigns that would attract new customers and raise their profile (there would probably be a real adpublitizing payoff to a bank launching a “Helping America Save” campaign in the midst of the current turmoil and worry about Americans’ poor saving habits).

The main point is that banks have to re-inject their brands with some old-time stodginess in order to restore faith in their core characteristics.  Moving out into consumer credit and other lines of business was fine, but ultimately a bank is a bank, and it lives or dies on its financial soundness and the perception of its brand as a secure financial foothold in a risky world.

And, remember, it’s always easier when you keep branding in mind!

TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –

A brand can only move so far from its core characteristics before it starts to weaken.


 

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Trackbacks
  • 5/10/2009 7:19 PM MarketingDoctor.tv wrote:
    Brand Winner… And Loser John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Winner: Bank Stress TestsLoser: KFC Folks, without further ado:The Winner I’m not a finance guy, and I will make no predictions if the Treasury’s “stress tests” (with results out this past week) will have long-term positive effects, but as a real marketing strategy they are this week’s winner.I’ll keep my case short and to the point. One of the biggest historical drags on the market —as well as new lending, the psychology of our economy, ...
  • 5/10/2009 8:55 PM MarketingDoctor.tv wrote:
    Brand Winner… And Loser John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Winner: Bank Stress TestsLoser: KFC Folks, without further ado:The Winner I’m not a finance guy, and I will make no predictions if the Treasury’s “stress tests” (with results out this past week) will have long-term positive effects, but as a real marketing strategy they are this week’s winner.I’ll keep my case short and to the point. One of the biggest historical drags on the market —as well as new lending, the psychology of our economy, ...
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