In her presentation “Brand Means Business: Building Financial Brands that Drive Growth” at The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, Adrenaline’s chief experience officer Gina Bleedorn discussed how a focus on brand can build business success for institutions of all sizes. In this highly-anticipated breakout session, Gina shared real stories of banks and credit unions that grew because they were able to build institutional support for brand change. She says, “In every case when they got over fear and moved to embrace change, they were able to achieve business success, and the faster they were able to do it, the more success they achieved.”
Watch the On-Demand Webinar “Brand Means Business: Building Financial Brands that Drive Growth.”
Brand = Growth
While change may be hard, a focus on brand results in real growth for banks and credit unions. Of the institutions outlined in Adrenaline’s Financial Brand session, brand change actually turbocharged their business success in the months and years that followed – with banks and credit unions going from about $4 billion to about $10 billion in assets in less than a decade. “This line chart represents a 151% asset growth in seven years,” says Gina in the presentation. “So, think about these kinds of numbers. What would it be like to tell your shareholders or your board you had that kind of growth?”
Study after study show that brand is an organization’s most important asset. As businesses become the most trusted institutions – more than government, media and even nonprofits – the role of brand comes into even sharper focus. “So, if businesses are governing society and brands govern trust around business, brands have never been more important than they are today.” In fact, Interbrand data demonstrates that brand is the biggest driver of value. “Strong brands consistently outperform the market and increasingly so,” says Gina. In their latest report, Interbrand said this past year showed the fastest brand value growth on record.
Undoubtedly, there’s stiff competition in financial services, so making your brand distinctive is no easy task. “In the Red Ocean, everyone’s saying and doing the same thing, with banks fighting for market share and the ocean becomes bloody with competition,” says Gina. “But in the Blue Ocean, brands are saying something different: ‘Bank Original’ or ‘Grow Your Possibilities.’ Suddenly you can transcend competition.” Brands that differentiate themselves increase measurable loyalty and propel growth. But how do you open up that Blue Ocean of opportunity? To grow, a brand must do three things successfully: Stand out; Connect; and Deliver.
Stand Out Through Strategy
Standing out is not necessarily about irreverent advertising or using crazy colors to get noticed. “Standing out is actually just about strategy,” according to Gina. “Smart strategy to find a clear space, position yourself in it in a way that can connect with who you want to connect with.” This kind of strategy is a mixture of art and science coming together, like what Citadel Credit Union did with their rebrand. After years of leaning on intentional ambiguity about being a credit union, the Citadel Credit Union of today is loud and proud. Represented by a modern Citadel, the credit union is “building strength together” in their new brand identity, tagline and campaign.
Connect Through Story
One of the most effective means of making a brand sticky is through story. Building on a powerful new Northern Plains brand identity, Bravera Bank leveraged storytelling to make their brand mean even more. “They had the story to go with it to inspire their employees to become brand ambassadors, which they did,” says Gina in the presentation. “They launched to their customers in their mailboxes, in their inboxes, in their wallets, and you can see how beautifully it extended.” With humanizing digital and traditional campaigns, Bravera’s unique identity fostered deeper relationships through their rich and rooted story.
Deliver Through Experience
Lastly, Gina highlighted Park National Bank, a growing regional leader expanding through acquisition. Built on delivering promises – to their people, their communities, and the banks they acquired – Park was inadvertently undermining their desired experience by operating in a model of affiliate autonomy. This meant that in some communities they were even competing with themselves. Once exposed to powerful data about what the bank could do if they unified, Park National Bank rallied their organization around a rebrand. “Ultimately, they brought to life this promise of serving more in all of their markets, enabling them to now achieve acquisition and market growth that they could not have achieved without it.”
To see more financial branding insights, download Gina’s full presentation on “Brand Means Business: Building Financial Brands that Drive Growth.” To access data we gathered at the conference and more insights about the banking industry’s biggest growth priorities, download Adrenaline’s 2022 Financial Industry Pulse report.
Download the Presentation
For more information on building brands for growth or to speak with one of our brand to branch experts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to also stay tuned in to Believe in Banking as it highlights industry news and views 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.