Getting Growth through Smart Branch Network Design & Proximity Marketing

Three power principles for financial institutions to leverage locality to successfully compete in the post-pandemic era


At the recent virtual IMPACT Conference for credit union leaders in Canada, Adrenaline’s Chief Experience Officer Gina Bleedorn discussed how financial institutions can be competitive in a post-COVID world.

In the Learning Lab, Gina presented three power principles for enhancing brand influence through smarter branch network design and proximity marketing in and around those branch locations. Understanding the evolving purpose of the branch is a critical first step. Gina says, “The branch has a new role, and it’s one of perception more than anything. It’s the main driver of consideration.” But it’s the synergies between the brand and the local branch that demonstrate their full power and potential. 

Watch Gina’s full presentation Growing Influence: Smarter Branch Network Design & Marketing below and be sure to learn more about her power principles – Be Smarter, Be Bigger and Be Authentic that follow.  

Power Principle #1 – Be Smarter

Data shows 55% of consumers visiting a branch in the last year, and even if consumers are not using the branch every day, they still want one nearby. In fact, Insider Intelligence finds the “ability to visit a bank branch as the most important [banking] benefit.” Further, the majority of customers’ current banking habits are expected to remain steady even during our current COVID era and beyond. Certainly, the local branch presence represents something important to consumers: the human-to-human banking relationship. But success is not just at the branch. Gina Bleedorn says, “How do you leverage locality – built on your brand and your branches – and have them work in tandem for the best results?” 

Brand and Branches

Consumers may not often visit a branch, but they want one nearby to their work or home. But even with the deepest pockets, it is not practical or feasible for a financial institution to enter a new service area and build full-service branches. “Let’s say you’re entering a new market and you want to achieve the network effect, says Gina Bleedorn. “I can’t just go in and immediately build twelve huge branches. Maybe I grow with a storefront, a couple of remote service locations and in another year or two, I open some additional locations – some spokes – and in three years, I’ve been able to achieve critical mass in an optimized way.” That’s the hub and spoke branching model in a nutshell. 

Hub & Spoke Branching created Perceived Presence

Power Principle #2 – Be Bigger

But what and where to build for best impact? Data can tell financial institutions the best opportunity for maximizing perceived presence in the market with minimum spend. Gina Bleedorn says, “Market data and demographic sources, can tell you who people are, where they live, demographic trends, and even some behavioral trends” to identify potential. Layered on top of that is mobility data to see “who people are so you can help serve them better.” Competitor data and a financial institution’s own customer data round out the picture. “Looking at your own members, what they are doing and how you are successful and profitable, according to Gina Bleedorn. “That is a key piece of this puzzle.”

Mobility Data

Once a financial institution has the right branches in the right locations, they’re in a position to maximize the perceived scale. Gina Bleedorn says, “Organizations should be asking how your brand, your marketing, and your branches all work together to create an even bigger halo effect to attract the people you want.” For most organizations, they must have a holistic view – from the brand through the branch. Making sure what the brand communicates matches what the data tells you about the market is critical. “The new branch creates this beautiful halo effect of awareness, of visibility, of reputation-building and ultimately results in greater brand equity,” according to Gina Bleedorn. “They all build and compound upon themselves.” 

Power Principle #3 – Be Authentic

Finally, organizations can leverage locality by using their brand and their branches to build trusting relationships. This authenticity is really about financial institutions being genuinely who they are and how they serve. It’s living out that power of purpose and heart of service in their communities that brings a genuinely local relevance to customers and members. With two meaningful examples in the presentation, Gina Bleedorn says, “We were able to help convert their current markets to lovers of a new name and brand by connecting it to who they were. But also build a brand that they could expand on with benefits the big banks can’t touch, helping people and communities prosper.”

On-Demand Webinar – Getting Growth through Smart Branch Network Design and Proximity Marketing Graphic

For information and insights on leveraging locality – effectively laddering the brand and the branch for maximum impact – be sure to visit Adrenaline’s Insights channel and see Believe in Banking for the latest data on branch banking. To request a download of the presentation or speak with one of Adrenaline’s branch experts about developing an optimization plan for your network, especially important in the post-COVID era, contact us at

Adrenaline is a brand experience company that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

Related Insights