When it comes to branding, it is important to change with the times. And let’s face it: the face of business is changing. Long shopping lines are being replaced with instant transactions and one-click ordering. Face-to-face business transactions are being replaced by shopping cart checkouts and tap-to-pay purchases. Even legal signatures are obtained with nothing more than software that captures the printed name and date. The pace of technological innovation can be a bit overwhelming, especially for financial institutions whose very survival will depend upon their ability to keep their consumers feeling safe and secure.
But that’s what makes this such an exciting time in the banking industry. Every financial institution has the chance to shine. Stripped of the burdens associated with staffing a large brick-and-mortar network, even modest sized banks and credit unions can put their best face forward — via our websites, software, and digital tools.
Addressing the Mobile Market
A increasing number of financial consumers are mobile-centric, and that number will continue to climb. Roughly 75% of businesses now say they use online banking weekly. They are accessing their banks through apps and mobile devices, and they want their answers quickly. They go to their bank through their mobile devices for a number of reasons, such as:
- Obtaining their balance
- Transferring funds
- Making payments through Billpay or similar options
- Contributing to savings or investment plans
- Checking out new features
Catching the Attention of a Younger Audience
Younger people especially are interested in trying new things-even when it comes to their banking experience. So one of the best things banks can do is to make sure they are making their brand stand out with a positive user experience. Here is a checklist you can go through to see if your community is viewing your brand in the way they should as a financial institution:
- Do you have an app?
- Does your brand have technology associated with it in some way?
- Do your ads focus on traditional strong points or do you bring in new ideas?
- Do you appeal to the mobile market?
- Do you appeal to younger people, who are looking for a regular bank?
If the answer to any of these questions was “no,” then you will want to do some serious revamping of your strategies… and then your brand messages. You can easily have an app designed by contacting a developer. Or do it yourself using one of the many online tools, like Conduit’s online instant app designer. Once you’ve created an app, make sure it’s visible in the Google Play, iOS (Apple), Amazon, etc., which will go a long way towards promoting your brand on a more macro level. Even if you are a community bank or local credit union can leverage apps to brand themselves as a “digital company.”
Rebrand or Disband
Regarding your branding, look at your logo and your website. Is there a way you can associate technology with your banking institution? You do not have to offer every digital service available, have the greatest software, or other technological advances in order to be thought of as a company that uses technology to its advantage. The main objective should be to key in on specific things your customers want regarding technology and try to deliver this on your website.
Play on Emotion, Not Logic
One of the best things you can do to help your brand is to create or offer a service that makes people feel better, something that makes them feel important, and empowers them with a sense of well-being and hope. If you can provide this experience with your brand, whether you are a financial institution, or any other organization, you will win. Focus on the customer experience, both before, during, and after the sale and you will reap the rewards.
Why Social Media (Really) Works
Social media is a mystery. Businesses have recently realized just how important it is to the building of their brand and company reputation. But why is it so effective? Social media is about making connections. It’s a great place to put ads, but the reason might surprise you. People often buy not for any real need but because their friends are recommending things to them. They like these friends, want to be like them, and feel connected to them more. So they buy things often for social or emotional reasons, rather than any real need. With banking, it’s a little different-but not much. People are more likely to use a bank a friend does when they tell a friend about the benefits. Word-of-mouth, both in the real world and social media goes farther than any amount of focused advertising, it seems, even in the world of banking and finance.
Branding Challenges for Banking Institutions
Branding is something banks and financial institutions struggle with. Let’s face it. Finance is not fun. It’s just a service we all need. So the challenge is to try to make it more fun. The Mint.com app has had hundreds of thousands of downloads over the past few months. Why? Because it is fun. Check it out here: www.mint.com
The app has gotten a lot of attention among iPhone users due to its cool features but the real impetus for its sales for the premium app have been spurred by fellow iPhone users and iPad users on social media bragging about how cool it is to be able to send money to a friend to pay for their dinner when they forgot their debit card.
It’s Not Just About the Products
Remember as a parting note: it’s not only about what you offer. It’s not just about the product or services you offer as a banking institution. It’s about how you make people feel, the user experience you create for them, and how much they want to share it with others. If you create “hype” about your brand, you’ll win, time and time again. Think about the latest YouTube video you saw recently. What made you want to share it? Did it touch some emotional chord in your heart? Did it make you think, “Hey, this is cool and will make my life easier?” This is the same feeling you want to incite in your users. That is what will keep them coming back and bringing friends with them in the process.
As you move forward into this digital age, and build your digital presence, remember that it’s more how you are “perceived” than how things are. If you create a reputation for giving customers what they want-a positive, easy experience on your website, build an app that makes things easy for them on their mobile devices, and implement the digital focus within your ad strategies, you’ll find yourself moving in the right direction. Digital presence is as much a part of branding today as the products and services themselves. Customers do not separate branding from the products, so make sure your brand says as much about you as your products and services do. Bring it all together in their minds with digital presence.