What’s Your Blue Ocean?

Blue Ocean spaces sit at the intersection of a brand’s product, mission, culture, and communication.

brand forum

Opportunities abound for brands that identify and embrace a big idea that people can experience. The end result is a brand infused with purpose and passion.

Last week, our team attended and presented at the Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas. Focused on financial marketers, this conference provides brand ideas, insights, innovations, and implementations from across the banking and credit union spectrum. In previous years, we unveiled a live brand makeover to show the power of our process and hosted a large party to get to know financial marketers one-on-one. This year we created a workshop to allow bank marketers to really dig into the creative process behind the best brands. This workshop was focused on understanding the modern demands on brands and how to create a blue ocean opportunity for their bank.   


Blue Ocean opportunities are focused on a differentiated space. It’s your values and core beliefs that are truly different from that of your competitors and elevated by a big idea – a rallying cry to unite behind. Brands move up the food chain by moving away from commoditized values. In banking, the commodities are transactions, fees, rates, and the like. You can have the best transactions in banking, but that alone is not enough to foster brand love, and it never will be. Bank brands embracing blue ocean opportunities emphasize big ideas that drive meaningful engagements – things that impact customers, employees, the community – experiences that only that brand can provide.

branding evolution

To understand why a blue ocean opportunity matters, we must understand branding’s evolution. Long dead is the idea that a brand creates messaging and pushes it one-way to their audience. Consumers today interact, engage and communicate back. Sure, the digital era has created a host of challenges for brands, because the old way of doing things no longer works. But these challenges actually open the door to rich opportunities for brand engagement. By understanding and embracing the dynamic nature of communication, banks can now unite behind larger brand values and open up a space for co-creation with consumers.  

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.”
– Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

A brand today is like a person – it interacts with consumers like never before in an omnichannel explosion. Feedback and conversation unfold everywhere, 24/7 on every platform and place imaginable. But if you don’t know what type of personality you have, how can you create that meaningful dialogue with your customers? Without self-awareness, you’re a man in no-man’s land. That’s where archetypes can help. Through our workshop we provided a list of values for participants to choose from that most represented their brand’s perspective and helped map that to archetypes that represent a larger meaning and persona.

If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
– Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Knowing your personality and the brand values your organization embraces is key to making a meaningful, ongoing connection to consumers and community. Archetypes and personas allow brands to stand for something and walk the walk of their values. Understanding the competition inherent in today’s marketplace and how you can differentiate your brand in a cluttered communication landscape will make the difference between brands that flourish and those that fail.  

brand competition

One brand that underwent this powerful process was Origin Bank. This best-practice example showed how a bank embraced change to turbocharge their expansion. The bank’s original name, Community Trust Bank, could easily be confused with one of the hundreds of banks with either “community” or “trust” in their name. Adrenaline President Sean Keathley said, “They had a brand that was well-known in their core market, but they were expanding. They didn’t have the personality of their culture coming through in their brand, which created a big disadvantage going into new markets. So they changed their name and in doing so, changed the trajectory of the brand.”

Having representatives of Origin Bank on stage allowed audience members to ask questions about how they walked through the process of creating new brand meaning. One of the questions that was asked was if there was an ahamoment for them. Adrenaline Marketing Director Linda Bennett says, “They started with keeping elements of their original name, coming up with C Trust or Core Trust or something like that. But the real breakthrough happened when their CEO gave them permission to leave their old name behind entirely. Once they had that freedom to explore, they felt this commitment to the future, where they were able to really focus on the vision of what they could become without having those strings attached.” 

forum 2017 booth
test chemistry

So how will your brand spark chemistry? To begin discovering your blue ocean opportunity, contact Linda Bennett, Marketing Director, at lbennett@adrenalineshot.com to obtain a copy of our workbook.

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