But for one Northern Plains financial services leader, courage is in their DNA. When the institution formerly known as American Bank Center was expanding their reach, they recognized that what they’d always done to support customers forging their own path, they now needed to do for themselves.
To make the most of their growth, the financial institution needed a more ownable name as they expanded into new markets. But it wasn’t just the name that needed attention. Their brand identity needed a fresh outlook, too. This new name would spotlight their continued investment in the region’s strong future, competitively position them to serve better and deliver on a broader promise.
Since their founding over a century ago, American Bank Center has helped people in North Dakota and Montana build a brighter future. Today, the financial services company known as Bravera serves customers with 32 locations and a range of banking, insurance and wealth products. Continuing a tradition rooted in bravery and trust, Bravera provides customers with financial tools to face whatever comes next.
Building a Brave New Brand
To spearhead the change, American Bank Center partnered with Adrenaline to develop a new brand identity and launch it to employees, customers and the market in 2021. Research showed American Bank Center had lower unaided brand awareness than other companies of their tenure, likely because of the “American” name. With so many companies already using this designation – 62 other entities in ND alone – the new name would need to be a resonant call to action that people would uniquely recognize and rally around.
Population trend data found that even in core North Dakota markets, demographics were changing, getting younger, more educated and diverse. Audience segmentation data found a variety of lifestyles beyond the bank’s core heartland audience. The new brand would be a platform to attract up-and-coming customers to live and grow with the bank throughout their life stages.
Renaming and branding would need to produce a name and brand identity capturing a regionally relevant spirit as a uniting factor across different audiences, especially important for building organizational consensus. To achieve market success, leadership stressed that the name needed to feel authentically Midwestern, not something brought in from outside.
Through the rebranding process, “Bravera” rose up as a name speaking to the brand’s vision and values. The name artfully combines “Bravery” and “Vera” (truth in Latin) for a brand with strong ties to the pioneering spirit that defines the Northern Plains. The new name unifies the entire network and creates a consistent banking experience under one banner. The tagline “Forge your path” is the summation of the brand story, a bold declaration inviting customers to build a brighter future.
With a name selected, the team built out a design system based on the creative strategy. For the logo, an updated eagle crest nods to their previous brand and the North Dakota flag, signifying American roots and pride. For the color palette, the creative team expanded and enhanced the current brand colors. The dominant earth tone yellow is inspired by the region’s natural environment and the secondary palette’s blue is an answer to recent branch interior upgrades.
A distinguishing element of the Bravera brand story is the original, non-stock photography showing the richness of the region’s people and places. Custom image treatments further separate Bravera from their competitors. These distinctive visuals are found across Bravera’s channels – from the brand to the branch.
Bringing Brand into the Branch
Where Bravera’s new brand would really come to life is at the branch, translating their proud spirit into the physical environment. Flowing from the creative strategy, a brand’s design principles are a roadmap guiding all choices, ensuring elements are cohesive across the brand’s visual expression. For Bravera, these principles were: Fresh (but not slick), Rugged (but not rustic) and Plains-inspired (but not cliché). These brand standards made the branches feel contemporary, yet time-tested with original local landmark photography that’s rooted in the region.
For their retail network, Bravera benefited from seasoned experts who worked together seamlessly to ensure the bank successfully united their branches across North Dakota and Montana. The network transformation team developed design applications and a branded kit of parts, assessed the current state of existing branches, planned and scheduled workstream activities, and managed exterior signage deployment and interior implementation.
Branch transformation requires skill, coordination and effective stakeholder engagement. One especially effective way the team fostered collaboration is through Adrenaline’s AMP, an online, real-time platform linking clients, vendors, designers, and managers together. All approvals, designs, permitting, and changes went through this portal, allowing every stakeholder to be involved in the transformation process.
The Adrenaline team executed this robust program from planning to implementation for all 27 of Bravera’s branches at the time, converting them to the new Bravera brand in a short, action-packed three-week timeframe.
Believing in the Brand
Kicking off the rebrand in 2019, Bravera originally planned to launch the new brand in 2020. As with most companies, COVID intervened, causing Bravera to put plans on pause while they served communities in a time of need. As it turned out, this pause had hidden gifts, allowing the Adrenaline team time to work through the intricacies of an employee launch campaign and its impacts across the brand.
It was important the rebrand was tied to a bigger, more enduring story for Bravera, and that it didn’t feel like a byproduct of COVID. Pushing the employee launch to October 2021 allowed employees across the organization to be in-person for a live celebration event just prior to market launch a month later. Tapping into the passion of Bravera’s people, the event set the stage for delivering the bank’s proud purpose to the market.
Reaffirming the branding process had gotten it just right, one leader said on stage at the employee launch that he’d been a skeptic of the necessity of rebranding, but came to realize this is exactly the change they needed. Going through the rebranding process made his advocacy for Bravera that much stronger.
Today, Bravera is perfectly positioned to expand their influence in the Northern Plains. The financial services company is taking an always-on approach to marketing and increasing conversion tactics using smart data and marketing analytics to drive strategy. This type of growth wouldn’t be possible without the powerful new brand to base it on. Bravera: Forge your path.