Think “Brand” New

Who are the great brand builders in banking? Really, I want to know. I’ve been asking that question lately, to little response. Does this lack of response affirm that community banks have a branding problem? If community banks  plan to grow, brand-building is crucial to growing those deposits. For paper towels, sure, I’ll trust generic – but for my mortgage and checking account, I want to know the institution I’ve entrusted with my financial future.

When it comes to brand-building, I can’t help but wonder if, among community banks, so-called younger banks (say, 10 years or younger) have a slight leg up on their staid half-century-old-or-more brethren. Younger banks – perhaps because they’re scrappy, perhaps because they’re working a little harder against the established competition to gain that market position – always seem to have their marketing & branding ducks in a row. Brand builders know who they are, and know how they differ from the competition. Out of the gate the younger banks have to look at how to differentiate from the rest of the area, many times taking advantage of technology as an efficient and cheap way to expand their reach.

Of course, younger banks have their challenges, but established banks can learn from these scrappy branders. Take a hard look at your brand – are you ready for growth, or are you OK with stagnation?

What’s in a name?
Does your bank name reflect who you are? Is it unique? Would your bank benefit from a new name? While Ally Bank was forced to change their name (due to GM’s bankruptcy back in 2009), the bank has done a stellar job of marketing through that name as an “Ally” to their customers.

How are you expanding your reach?
What are you offering your customers (and how are you attracting new ones)? Online and mobile are great ways to expand your reach – you don’t need to need to have a branch on every corner.

Not ready to take that tech step yet? Paducah Bank of Paducah, Kentucky invites its customers to “Get Wowed!”.  Aside from the usual involvement in the community, Paducah Bank has an ice cream truck for use by businesses, churches, schools and other organizations that bank with Paducah Bank. They’ve also published Wow! magazine (originally Expressions) since 2003, highlighting not only staff but customers as well.

One other thing: ever notice that all the banks that are getting “brand buzz” are heavily engaged in social media?
Will mobile payments create the most significant revenue opportunities of the decade for financial institutions? Free video from PwC.

Speaking of rebranding: How Ally Bank gets social media right.