The Future of Formats in Financial Services

How micro, mobile and ITM approaches help banks balance the experiences consumers want with the efficiency financial institutions need

Eastern Bank Redesign by Adrenaline

How micro, mobile and ITM approaches help banks balance the experiences consumers want with the efficiency financial institutions need

The pressure to get more efficient is evident all across the banking sector, commanding the content featured at industry leading conferences like Future Branches and the Financial Brand Forum. But, while important, efficiency isn’t only for creating cost savings to better banking’s bottom line. Institutions that drive more efficiencies are in a better position to reinvest resources into their experiences, allowing them to save and grow at the same time. Nowhere is that reinvestment more evident than in some future-facing branch formats. So, what are the ideal branch formats?

In his exploration in BAI on the best branch experience, Jon Voorhies ponders that question. He says, “In whatever bank publication you pick up today, it seems someone has an opinion on the one ideal branch design. It’s smaller, heavily automated and uses digital signage.” However, like many things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “I don’t believe in just one ideal branch design, just as I don’t think there is one ideal car design. The real answer is: It depends … on lots of things.” That’s why we believe having a North Star is so important: it can be sized up or down, go forward or backward, depending on different needs. 

While there may be no one branch format that’s the model for the modern banking experience, it’s clear that consumers want to bank close-by. “Even as digital and fintech banking options gain traction, customers still prize personal experience from their primary financial institutions – according to three separate surveys on banking satisfaction,” reports Believe in Banking. Further, ICBA data shows “69% of U.S. adults cite the importance of banking with a locally based financial institution, while 70% cite the importance of personal banking relationships,” which tend to start at the branch.  

There’s no doubt the banking relationship hinges on branches for success, but not all of them need to be the big splashy variety to satisfy consumer demand or even to maximize market presence. While it’s important to have flagship branches strategically positioned within a bank’s retail network, equally essential are the smaller formats that link to the larger ones. In fact, some of the best forward-thinking branch designs fall into the “small but mighty” category. Whether it’s microbranches, mobile branches or a drive-up ITM, financial institutions have gotten creative with their custom applications and smaller footprints. 

Smaller Branches 

When Eastern Bank needed to rightsize their branches to meet changing market demands, they tapped Adrenaline to design more efficient, smaller branches for their retail network. These formats would ideally bring down operational costs, but not short-circuit customer experience or operational efficiency. Following an in-depth market analysis, we recommend four prototype branch formats – cashless, self-serve, micro and reduced-full-service – powered by universal banking and piloted based on each area’s growth potential. With four versions of an ideal branch experience and a strategy for implementation across their network, Eastern Bank has the right branch for the right place. 

Eastern Bank

Mobile Branches

Comerica Bank is widely known for their people-first approach to banking and what better way show that than to bring banking directly to customers? So, in 2020, the bank partnered with Adrenaline to design, deliver and develop a kit-of-parts for the next phase of their retail experience – their first mobile branch. This branch on wheels is a multifunctional powerhouse that incorporates Branch On Location and Brand On Tour capabilities into one experience – a brand billboard bringing Comerica’s BankerConnect ITM to local communities and reaching customers and prospects in a new and novel way. With its multi-purpose functionality, the goMERICA branch is a turnkey and flexible way to create new connections. 

Comerica Bank Mobile Branch Case Study

Interactive Teller Machines

As their influence grew, Guaranty Bank & Trust wanted to maximize their presence in their hometown market. Working with Adrenaline, they sought to make the most of some prime property near their Greenwood flagship branch, so they upgraded their plans for an ATM drive-up to incorporate a multifunctional ITM. This would allow customers to get all of the quick convenience of an ATM and the added benefits of a drive-up with the enhanced functions that hybrid technology provides. Although they’d planned for the ITM long before COVID, Guaranty had fortuitous timing. It was deployed just in time to take on overflow banking customers and now serves a prototype for the bank’s remote drive-up strategy in future markets. 

Guaranty Bank & Trust Case Study

For more information on retail banking formats and optimizing the branch banking channel for growth, or to speak with one of our banking experts, contact us at info@adrenalinex.com. Be sure to also stay tuned in to Believe in Banking as it highlights industry information and insights for banking leaders and Adrenaline’s Insights channel featuring banking and credit union strategies for success.


Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

Related Insights