Think Different: Content Branding Inspiration for Financial Institutions

Here are some brilliant examples from Apple, WestJet and Dove that financial marketers can use to inspire their social content strategy.

The world’s information is currently doubling every two years. With smart phones, tablets and the ubiquity of the internet, people are constantly receiving, analyzing and sharing overwhelmingly amounts of information. How to market more effectively — or more fundamentally how to reach a target audience — has became a major challenge for today’s financial marketers.

By 2015 it is said that each human being will have a content consumption at an amazing 15 hours a day.  With that, there is enough content on the internet alone that can keep people busy consuming content for more hours than we even have available. Consumers will have no choice but to become very good at deciding what content they need to read and more importantly, what content to ignore. I promise you, no matter how slice it, boring-non inspiring content will be the first on the chopping block of attention span especially since consumers eyes are systematically trained and have almost become allergic to avoid even looking at traditional banking content. So what can financial institutions do?

Here are a few examples of companies that have taken their branding to a new level — without ever mentioning a single product — that may inspire you to Think Different.

WestJet’s – Christmas Miracle

Last Christmas, over 35 million people experienced the joy and witnessed the generosity of WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video. In the video, 250 surprised passengers received presents they wished for before just moments before they boarded their flight. Cameras captured WestJet volunteers running from store to store and scrambling to wrap gifts and the emotional moment when travelers saw the Christmas wishes arrive on the luggage carousel at their destination. The airline company’s holiday marketing went viral on internet and story was picked up by major news organizations. WestJet never once talked about its flights nor any of their products.

Apple’s – “Think Different”

To this day, no matter how many times you may have seen Apple’s 1997 commercial “To The Crazy Ones” that launched the legendary “Think different” campaign, you can still get the tingles. For the actual stories behind each characters mentioned and for the tech company’s ability to successfully deliver such a genius spot with deep and humanistic messages behind it. Upon release, the “Think Different” Campaign proved to be an enormous success for Apple, which had garnered numerous awards and accolades and marked the company’s emergence as a marketing powerhouse. Again, not a single Apple product was depicted throughout the ad.

These two examples of successful marketing and branding campaigns from two completely different companies — Apple and WestJet — have neatly illustrated the ongoing trend in marketing: content marketing within the context of social media.

What’s In It For Financial Marketers?

Today’s consumers are smart, opinionated and tech savvy. They watch TV with a tablet or laptop on hand: if they are not interest in what’s on TV, they go to YouTube. They filter out messages they don’t agree with. They are accustomed to personalized things from the music on iTunes to Pandora playlist. Basically, they only want to do business with the brands they like.

In this case, product and price alone most likely won’t be enough to gain their business. What attracts and retains customers today in this social world is the brand itself. Banks and credit unions may be able to compete in a pricing war on having the lowest interest rates on loans or pay the highest rates on CDs and deposit accounts, but there is usually only one winner in that game. So a healthier, long-term solution would be to build brand identity through brand repositioning and the development and execution of social content strategy.

Ultimately, consumers need to know and accept who you are and what your brand stands for. Take the “WestJet’ Christmas Miracle” for example, the video not only connects with audiences emotionally but also reinforces the company’s values of fun and caring. It makes the airline company a brand with personality, which naturally differentiate itself from its competitors. It softens and humanizes their brand.

Dove, the beauty products company, has also done an excellent job with content marketing and brand positioning in a social media context. Its “Real Beauty Sketches” concept has helped many people see past the common standards of beauty and realize “you are more beautiful than you think.” The concept resonates on several levels — so deeply human that it can bring even the toughest leatherneck to tears. It positions Dove as a brand that not only cares for the well-being of people’s appearance but also a brand that cares about people’s inner beauty.

In the age of big data, most people saturate themselves on the internet. The online world is where financial institutions need to make strong presence and connection with customers. It’s where engagement is crucial to both the success of the financial institutions’ marketing strategies and even the future business opportunities.

How Can Financial Institutions Change and Improve?

“The best way to persuade people is with your ears — by listening to them.”
— Dean Rusk, Former U.S. Secretary of State

The first step towards developing a great long-term social marketing strategy for your financial institution is to deeply understand the individual people within your market, and how those people interact with social media content. The difference being not in a product focus way, but in a way that can potentially connect your brand to your market in a way that was impossible in more recent times. A great content marketing effort is a means of strengthening relationships and brand loyalty, and social media is the platform that makes all the connection and engagement happen. So to ensure a place in tomorrow’s market competition and market share, financial institutions will need to start adjusted into the social media trends that are today.

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