Banking on Words: The Secret to Creating Memorable Bank Slogans and Taglines

Crafting a memorable bank slogan or tagline requires more than just catchy words. Learn the strategies behind creating phrases that resonate with customers, build trust, and accurately reflect a bank's brand identity while measuring the success of your bank's messaging.

Banks constantly vie for customers’ loyalty and attention. While interest rates, products, and services play a pivotal role in attracting customers, marketers shouldn’t underestimate the power of a bank’s brand in leaving a lasting impression. Slogans and taglines can embody a bank’s brand identity and are powerful tools for demonstrating its values, promises, and personality.

“A good slogan supports the overall brand promise, and over time, becomes shorthand for the financial institutions’ story,” Martha Bartlett Piland, CFMP, President & CEO of Banktastic, a marketing agency for financial brands, told The Financial Brand.

But what makes a bank slogan or tagline truly effective? Great taglines can shape customers’ perceptions and feelings about a brand, positively priming them, evoking emotion, and enhancing brand recall without them being consciously aware of it. These seemingly simple taglines can wield a surprising amount of influence. However, it’s important to understand some of the strategic considerations involved in creating them.

The Purpose of Slogans and Taglines in Banking

Slogans are a vital part of a brand’s identity and play a role in brand positioning, attracting attention, and differentiating from competitors in a crowded market. “I tend to think of a slogan or tagline as a brand promise, or a promise that a bank makes to its core audiences,” Josh Fleming, Marketing Director for Bank Iowa, told The Financial Brand.

This promise goes beyond financial products and services; it should encompass a bank’s values, commitment to customers, and place in the community. Trust also plays a significant role, especially during economic turmoil and uncertainty. “A good bank slogan infuses feelings of trust and the sense that the bank is on the same team as the customer,” says Xavier English, Co-founder at Supermix, a media and marketing agency for business and technology companies.

A successful slogan or tagline should be memorable and evoke emotions that align with the bank’s desired brand image and should be a key strategic consideration when developing them.

The Anatomy of a Successful Tagline

What makes a bank slogan memorable and successful? Experts say it’s a blend of creativity, strategy, and understanding psychology.

Bartlett Piland highlights four key elements of a great tagline:

  • It’s unique: Standing out in a crowded market is essential, and a distinctive tagline helps a bank carve its own niche.
  • It’s holistically aligned: A tagline should seamlessly connect a bank’s external brand identity with its internal culture and values, ensuring a consistent message.
  • It’s concrete and deliverable: A tagline should be more than just words; it should reflect a tangible promise the bank can fulfill for customers and employees.
  • It supports talent: A strong tagline can attract and retain top talent by articulating a compelling employer value proposition.

When combined effectively, these four elements resonate deeply with the intended audience, which should speak to more than just potential customers but also internally and within the community.

Fleming agrees a tagline should reach beyond customers. “For a community financial institution like Bank Iowa, a brand promise must speak to our clients, communities, and culture (The 3 C’s),” he says. “If our team members are empowered to live out the brand promise, the community and clients will follow.”

And when a tagline truly hits the mark, it becomes ingrained in the bank’s overall culture. “You know a bank’s slogan is effective when people who aren’t in the marketing and brand teams are saying it,” says English.

“I tend to think of a slogan or tagline as a brand promise, or a promise that a bank makes to its core audiences.”

— Josh Fleming, Bank Iowa

The Process of Creating a Tagline

Creating a tagline that embodies a bank’s brand and resonates with all stakeholders isn’t easy. It requires a strategic approach that combines creativity, research, and collaboration. “Get input from key stakeholders: learn more about perceptions of your institution by listening first. This could include the C-suite and management team, board of directors, and employee influencers,” Bartlett Piland says. “It helps with buy-in later and gives more depth to the creative process.”

Bartlett Piland suggests starting with a comprehensive creative strategy brief that outlines the tagline’s goals, supported by research, stakeholder input, target audience details, positioning, and tone. The brief can serve as a roadmap for the creative development process and to measure potential ideas.

The next step is brainstorming and generating ideas without judging their merit. “Don’t fall in love with your first idea,” Bartlett Piland says. She also suggests involving external voices for a fresh perspective and avoiding internal biases. It can also benefit to test with focus groups to help refine the messaging.

English likes to run potential ideas through the ‘Coffee Test.’ “Imagine two people in your target having coffee and one asked the other: ‘What’s this bank like compared to the others?’ What language can you imagine the person actually responding with that wouldn’t sound robotic or out of place?” he says. “Often, you’ll find that the best ‘coffee test approved’ language comes out in what people say in between their more thought-out answers because this is the language that came naturally to them when they weren’t overthinking it.”

Ultimately, the final approval of a tagline also ensures it aligns with the bank’s legal and brand guidelines.

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Slogans and Taglines

The work doesn’t end once a bank has invested time and resources into crafting a slogan. Measuring the effectiveness of these brand elements can help gauge their impact and provide valuable insights.

Fleming suggests a quantitative approach, including brand awareness studies. “Measuring brand awareness through aided and unaided awareness studies is usually the best way to gauge if a tagline is successful,” he says. These studies can reveal how well a tagline has penetrated the market and if it’s associated with the bank’s desired brand image.

Bartlett Piland recommends a slightly more holistic approach, tracking brand perceptions among customers and employees pre- and post-launch, which includes detailing desired actions. This can reveal shifts in attitudes and associations with the bank, helping to pinpoint the specific impact of the tagline with measurable tracking.

“For example, we developed a ‘Banking Unusual’ tagline and brand for a client who wanted to upend the way financial services were delivered to customers and make banking with them something customers would look forward to,” she says. “One element of that brand was to let bankers do unusual things to make a memorable experience for their customers. Employees were excited to deliver on Banking Unusual and had plenty of ideas, which were allowed within guidelines.”

Ultimately, combining methods may be the best approach to measuring tagline effectiveness. By tracking brand awareness, organic adoption, and changes in perception, banks can better understand how their tagline is performing in the market.

The Lasting Impact

A successful tagline is more than just a catchy phrase; it’s a strategic asset that can drive brand awareness, foster trust, and contribute to the bank’s success by creating a lasting connection with customers and reinforcing the brand’s promise. “The best slogan is the one the bank lives up to,” says English.

Liz Froment is a financial services writer based in Boston. She specializes in banking, lending and wealth management with an interest in technology. Her work has appeared in Business Insider and The Motley Fool, among others.

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