Financial institutions compete for customers’ and employee’s’ attention alongside advertisers, news outlets, social media and digital search.
The pandemic only amplified the need for effective communication because it quickly shifted the points of engagement between customers, employees and organizations from in person, face-to-face interactions to more digital platforms.
Effective visual communication can help banks and credit unions capture their audience’s attention more quickly by connecting words and concepts. Using visual elements like video, images and graphics as part of their strategic communication plan can help marketers cut through the digital noise.
Support Brand with Visual Communication
Financial institutions should incorporate graphic design and data visualization into any form of strategic communication especially brand positioning and brand identity. Strong visual branding not only improves recognition, but it can also lead to an increase of traffic, sales and audience engagement. Companies overall estimate revenue increased by 33% if they maintained brand consistency, according to Lucidpress’ 2020 brand consistency report.
Customers frequently associate a financial institution with its logo and brand marks. Done well, these elements are certainly memorable, capture attention and generate awareness. But corporate identity is not simply a well-executed logo with visually appealing colors and fonts. A brand must display a financial institution’s purpose, mission and values in order to represent the organization with authenticity and evoke emotion.
Wells Fargo is an example of how logos can express brand values and tell a brand’s story in the marketplace.
Wells Fargo in 2019 changed its logo colors and font to represent change within its business, and a refocus on rebuilding customer trust. Following numerous financial scandals, the bank used this logo alteration to explain the progress, effort and innovation it was working toward on all levels of its business.
Branding, like all visual communication requires a skilled team of designers, communicators and business leaders without biases to make strategic decisions about what visual elements will appeal and resonate best with the organization’s audiences. Too often, nonprofessional views hold sway.
Use Visual Communication to Reinforce Values
Organizational values represent key beliefs and behaviors financial institutions support. Values inform decision-making and clarify expectations for how employees should behave when interacting with customers and colleagues.
Visual communication has the unique ability to quickly transform a complex concept like values into a simple and easy-to-understand format, like a one-page visual report that brings to life an employee’s role in the organization’s broader goal. Techsmith research found two out of three employees carry out tasks better when communicated with visually versus non-visually. Additionally, visual information is absorbed 7% faster. These statistics exemplify that using visual communication internally leads to consistency and brand awareness.
Financial institutions can also reinforce their values by tying each value to its own icons, symbols and colors like Progressive did (shown below). These symbols provide visual cues that create a deeper understanding and stronger personal connection to the financial institution’s values. Values can also be activated visually through computer screen savers, slide templates, email templates, digital signage, posters and branded apparel.
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Establish Trust with Visual Communication
Strong visuals help financial institutions connect with emotions, which builds trust and leads to brand loyalty. Deloitte found that “60% of long-term customers use emotional language to describe their connection to favored brands.”
Color is one graphic element financial institutions can use to convey trust and connect with their audiences. Blue, for example, often represents a sense of calmness and conveys loyalty and trust. In this case, financial institutions, like Citibank, may prefer to use blue to make consumers feel safe and secure with their brand.
Citibank changed their logo in 1998 after it absorbed Travelers Group. Designers found it challenging to merge the two institutions’ logos; however, they decided blue would be best suited for the logo because of the emotions often associated with it. Since then, and many logo changes later, blue has remained in the Citibank brand.
Banks and credit unions can support brand identity, reinforce organizational values and establish trust by prioritizing graphic design. Visual communication is a concise way to get a message across and thus improve internal and external communication. When well executed, this helps build a stronger community of engaged employees and leads to improved business results.