Learn About Branding – A Look at Banks

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source issue 36

Are all high street banks the same?

Many people would say yes. They offer similar products and services and whenever a bank brings something new to the market the other banks are offering something similar in no time.

So how do you get noticed when you offer the same as all your competitors?

Define your brand

In an environment of sameness businesses with a strong brand prevail. Don’t just focus on products and services that can be replicated, define your culture and corporate personality. Become recognised for the values that make you different from your competitors and establish an emotional bond with customers that will develop brand loyalty.

By clearly defining your brand you can attract new business and become less vulnerable to outside forces that aim to steal customers. Strong brands build trust and are perceived as lower risk and higher value.

When all your staff recognise your brand values the customer experience and messages they deliver will be consistent. A strong brand also fuels employee pride, reducing staff turnover and attracting talent.

Determine your point of difference

The importance of having a point of difference is understood by everyone in branding and marketing. A point of difference will distinguish you from the competition and give you an opportunity to find a unique position in your market.

When Kiwibank entered the market in 2002 they positioned themselves as the only big New Zealand owned bank. Over the years this point of difference has driven their brand and shaped how they do business, with great success.

The power of colour

A quick search of bank websites will show you how similar they look, and the prevalence of the colour blue plays a big part in this.

If I say “blue bank” several names of banks come to mind. If I say “yellow bank” I’m pretty sure ASB will come to mind. ASB’s ownership of the colour yellow in the sector is very powerful for them. When researching banks and their products it makes it hard to confuse ASB’s information with other banks. Their branches are easier to recognise making their locations easier to remember and their street presence stronger.

Brand loyalty

Once people choose a bank they seldom change – on average people stay with the same bank for longer than the same partner! However, this is down to apathy as much as brand loyalty – if all the competition are offering the same thing then why change?

This situation works for banks until their customers are forced to review their options due to a life event or if they have a bad experience with their bank.

When it comes to products like credit cards, mortgages and insurance, customers are more likely to change allegiance and it’s not uncommon for people to have multiple products from different banks. 

If you have a brand that sets you apart and engages with customers to create trust and build loyalty you are less likely to lose customers, more likely to sell products to existing customers and more likely to have referrals from existing customers for new business.

Competition from other brands

With the rise of global brands and the potential for them to enter the financial sector, banks should be investing in their brands. Paypal are a well recognised and trusted brand that could expand their financial services to compete with banks. Could the Apple Pay and Google Pay products be the first steps for these global brands to enter the finance sector? How long will it be until we see Amazon Bank? If big brands with plenty of resources enter the market it will be the banks with brands that have won the hearts of their customers who keep their market share.

Co-branding

Co-branded credit cards have been around for a while and provide banks with a way to attract new customers offering benefits from other brands like travel points or store discounts.

More recently co-branding has extended to other areas, such as television. Programme sponsorship has developed to become programme partnerships that deliver deeper levels of brand engagement with the show’s fans. Last year Kiwibank took this a step further by fully funding Nigel Latta’s Mind Over Money series.

In the USA one bank has even co-branded their premises and turned it into a coffee shop. HomeTown Bank share their premises with Mocha Monkey to provide their customers and employees with refreshments and a different environment while exposing the bank to non-customers. As coffee shops have become a place to do business and have meetings they could be onto something.

Are all high street banks the same?

Imagine how powerful it would be for your business if your customers said, “Yes, all of them are the same, except for mine!”

Posted 1 May 2018

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