It has become a critical time for businesses in all industries to focus on branding, and the financial industry is no different. Due to the rapid evolution of technology, banks in particular are being forced to decide between maintaining their classic and traditional connotations, or adapting and adopting a more modern feel. However, true branding does not stop there – banking is not a team sport, so simply making the decision between a ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’ brand is not enough to beat the competition. In order to stand out, banks must develop branding strategies that create unique emotional connections with each of their target audiences.
Why should my bank focus on branding?
Now, I get it – investing in boosting your brand can be costly, both in terms of time and money. However, this small short-term setback will immensely help your business grow in the long-term. It has been proven that it costs more to acquire new customers than to hold on to old ones, and by creating an emotional connection between your clients and your brand, you are more likely to gain their trust and hence their loyalty. Furthermore, according to Bridge Bank, “a strong brand makes it easier for customers to make buying decisions and serves as a shortcut in the process.”
How do I choose my brand identity?
Granted, saying that you are reliable, friendly, or just plain ‘the best’ may seem a little unoriginal given the hundreds of times you have heard those characteristics rattled off during commercials. However, there is no reason these claims can’t still be used – you just have to delve a little deeper. Instead of just saying that your firm ‘cares’, explain to people what it is that you care about and, more importantly, show them how you care. For example, Raymond James, a diversified financial services company, has developed its brand around ‘putting others first,’ by specifically supporting communities, which they prove through their work with organizations such as Cradles to Crayons. So just try to focus on one promise that you feel the most passionately about, and then look deeper to discover what it is that makes your promise special and express that to the public.
How do I build my brand?
Because the banking industry is primarily a service industry, the best and most effective way to communicate and develop your brand is through client/adviser relations. However, while this does act as a great opportunity to give the customer a positive and memorable experience, it also poses a great challenge, especially for banks. Not only are client/adviser relationships difficult to control, but they are also extremely differentiated because varying clients have varying needs. According to American Banker, here are some ways to ensure that your firm provides a positive, branded experience to each of your clients and customers:
- Interaction Consistency: Even if you can’t be consistent in what you offer due to the different needs of your varying clients, you should still be consistent in how you offer it. Therefore, make sure that your employees are fully aware of your firm’s promises and that they understand your brand message. Not only will this consistency improve people’s attitudes toward your brand, but it will also provide familiarity which will make people feel more comfortable about working with your bank.
For example, Middlesex Savings Bank promises “unbeatable service from local people who know you” – in order to ensure this promise is consistently met, they hire people who live in the communities they serve and make sure that they stay actively involved in these communities.
- Expectation Realization: When branding, you both directly and indirectly make promises associated with your brand that are critical to keep. Whether it is a promise of trustworthiness, ease, or quality, not fulfilling this promise will lead to your firm losing its integrity. However, it is just as important to not only meet your client’s expectations, but to surpass them. Therefore, be sure to make commitments that know you can keep, but that are also in areas that you know your business can excel in so that your customers are consistently pleasantly surprised.
Need help revitalizing your brand? inSegment provides both creative and branding service that includes everything from logo design to brand strategy. Contact us!