Hello and thanks for having for me. My name is Ann von Germeten and I’m the CMO at Bank of the West. My background is in advertising and CPG, and I was with Charles Schwab prior to BOTW.
I’m going to talk about how Bank of the West is using branding to combat the commoditization of the financial industry –at a time when its competitors are taking a different tact – and how we’re preparing for the digital future.
Fighting commoditization is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, at the core of what we all do as marketers, drives the diversity of product/service offerings available today, creates meaning and engagement for consumers, provides opportunity for competitive differentiation, which builds bottom line profitability …and may have more untapped opportunity in financial services than other categories.
Though our category is quite different, the same principles in establishing the brand and building loyalty are consistent. It’s how we as marketers show ROI/value to our organizations, help to sell products, differentiate and compete in the category.
In order to understand the Bank of the West brand, we first want to look at where the category was five years ago.
Remember 2008-2009? Overall public sentiment toward banks had fallen to an all-time low. (Source: BAI 2010.)
We found ourselves in category suffering from inertia and customer dissatisfaction. You could say extreme dissatisfaction.
Exactly how dissatisfied was the consumer? Well…
66% DO NOT BELIEVE THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY WILL HELP THEM REGAIN THE WEALTH THEY LOST DURING THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN
50% BELIEVE THEIR BANK IS A COMPANY THEY CAN TRUST
33%ARE STRONGLY COMMITTED TO DOING BUSINESS WITH THEIR CURRENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
10% DESCRIBE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AS “HONEST”
5% DESCRIBE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AS “ETHICAL”
3% DESCRIBE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AS “SYMPATHETIC”
Source from the deck was JD Power, Aite Group and Cohn and Wolfe.
No one believed that their banks had their best interests in mind, and maybe they were right.
But the “big four” banks were still the dominant financial brands in the industry.
Bank of the West was simply out branched, out ATM’d, out advertised and couldn’t keep up in the race to release new features.
However, due to the ubiquity of the “Big 4” they also bore the brunt of the negative publicity during the financial crisis. As a challenger in the category, this is when our opportunity arose – a window where the dynamics of competition shifted in our favor.
It was the perfect time to push off the category, take a different path and compete on our brand attributes. Some banks offered more rewards, some offered less fees, some offered better more access, or simply more ATMs.
We offered brand values that resonate with the cultural sentiment.
We used our brand positioning to differentiate ourselves.
Our strategy was to distance ourselves from Wall Street physically and metaphorically, we tapped into our association with the West where the spirit of optimism and opportunity is alive and well.
And what consumers loved about us most was our customer centric approach and positive experience we provided in our retail branches.
Harnessing that positive retail experience, we put the customer at the core of all our brand communications and created a communications platform that spanned from mass brand advertising to in-branch marketing to internal communications.
The campaign results were strong.
i. Key attributes such as Entrepreneurial, Optimistic and straightforward increased along with others. And “Old fashioned” declined. ii. Newly acquired customers had an average age of 43, which is 9 years younger than the bank’s existing customers. iii. Average loan balances for newly acquired customers were 128% higher than existing ones, exceeding our goal of 50%.
The brand communications created a positive foothold in the minds of consumers, which helped to give our organization a platform to introduce innovative products that we could now compete on.
We’re going to be as good as the other banks on the product features front, but we will be very competitive when it comes to digital innovations that make our customers life’s easier.
We’ve been designing for the tablet as opposed to the desktop, and putting customer use experience first and foremost.
This was the first app of it’s kind where customers could quickly check their balance, by-passing the timely log-in process by simply pulling down the top of the home screen.
It also features the mobile check deposit feature that has gained such rapid adoption.
We supported the launch of this app with an advertising campaign and mobile deposits increased by 45% in the first 4 months of that effort.
And it’s not just our mobile team that’s UX minded. We’ve implemented a project management process throughout the organization called Radical Collaboration that involves all disciplines at every level, especially those on the front lines with customers to learn what consumers really want from their mobile banking experience.
From processes like these we learned that consumers wanted to be able to view up to 5 balances in the Quick Balance feature, so we made it happen.
Functioning almost as if we’re a start up, technological developments such as these have been our focus and will continue to be.
In addition to depositing checks by picture, what else could you take a picture of?
Maybe a bill in order to pay it? Or a Driver’s license to get a loan?
These are the types of things we’re working on and we strive to compete on the mobile innovation with other financial challengers such as USAA or Suntrust.
Our brand values are open, straightforward, entrepreneurial and optimistic. And we’ve added a fifth pillar – innovative. This attribute score has also leapt up in our tracking study, thanks to the combination of our brand communications and mobile banking innovations.
These are the values of the New West. The values of Bank of the West.