We recently conducted research into the role of branding in the financial services category. Long-held associations of ‘trust’ and ‘safety’ have disappeared from our perceptions of banks, leaving many established brands with the need to cover the base-level prerequisites of being a valuable banking brand. This creates opportunities for new entries that have strong brands and are untainted by the financial crisis. As ever, the ultimate test of a brand lies in the value its customers prescribe to the relationship with it, so the key challenge is to maximise the value of that relationship.
Graham Hales, Managing director, Interbrand
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the sector to reinvent its relationship with customers. Banks can learn from some of our best retailers about how to develop trust. Take John Lewis, the UK’s most trusted retail brand. It’s on your side, it’s straight-talking, and it backs` up everything with guarantees about fair pricing, quality and good service. A fresh attitude needs to run through the organisation like a stick of (not Northern) rock.
Heidi Lightfoot, Co-founder, Together Design
There is no quick fix, as the public is savvy enough to know that attitudes are not changed by a clever ad campaign or a design makeover. Any successful reinvigoration of a brand is useless, unless it is founded upon real change. This means thinking of new ways of doing business which put honesty and the trust of your customers above just making profit. For example, companies such as Zopa have gone back to the basic principles of banking, matching people who want to save and grow their money with people who need to borrow.
Ben Stott, Creative director, NB Studio
One of the remarkable things to come from the banking meltdown will be a proliferation of new banks. Virgin and others will challenge the discredited and innocent. The battle will be bloody; the new guys reminding us of incumbent failures, the incumbents warning us about shiny new clothes. Meanwhile, the answer is people – ordinary, reliable people, who sell easy-to-understand products, in people-centric spaces. Think of it as Hovis goes banking. It’s the Nationwide that springs to my mind.
David Worthington, Chairman, Lloyd Northover Group