The wrong name for a financial services app.

September 8, 2014 / Branding, Financial Services
Naming branding

Isis Wallet, the app that links a credit card to a smartphone so users can make in-store purchases, is changing its name. That’s certainly understandable, give all the atrocities that the militant group Isis is committing in the Mideast right now.

But in our opinion, the new name, Softcard, is less than ideal. The term “soft” implies something that lacks power or capability and should be avoided in any financial services context — especially given all the credit card security breaches that have occurred over the past year. Customers want to know that their transactions are protected, and the term “soft” doesn’t inspire certainty.

News reports claim that the Isis Wallet is having trouble gaining traction. The new name won’t help matters any.

Photo: Tuija Aalto (Creative Commons)

How to inject some life into your bank marketing.

August 27, 2014 / Financial Services, Sales/Marketing
bank marketing financial

So bank advertising may not be the most exciting of all categories. But here are some suggestions on how to spice up your promotional efforts.

Use social media to sustain customer relationships.  Do Facebook posts or Tweets about practical tips on saving money, investing for college, choosing the right mortgage option. Maybe even post a human interest story about one of your tellers or branch manager. Your fans will “like” you for it.

Do mobile banking better than your competitors. A recent study shows that customers who use mobile banking services tend to more satisfied with their financial institution than those who don’t. So take a good look at your mobile banking services. Is there a way you can make them even better or more special than those offered by the bank down the street? For example, devise a special name for one aspect of the service — and build a campaign around it. Or highlight stories of customers who save time banking with their smartphone. Even though it’s all about technology, give your mobile banking a human face.

Create human interest stories around your bank personnel. Don’t just show smiling faces of bank managers, bank tellers, and mortgage advisors. Present them as real people — moms, dads, soccer coaches, community volunteers, etc. Tell stories.

Or create human interest stories around your customers. Find people with interesting stories to tell.
And showcase them.

Do something different in the area of customer service. And we’re not just talking about coffee, lollipops or cookies in the branch. Make a claim about why your customer service is better. Back it up with action. And promote it.

Take a look at alternative media. Look beyond the traditional print ads, radio commercials, billboards and bus boards. Consider YouTube, mobile…ways to show you’re evolving with the latest digital trends.

Above all, remember this: Bank marketing is about more than interest rates. It’s about human interest. Want more creative suggestions on how to inject some “life” into your bank marketing? Invest some time speaking with us.

Photo: I-5 Design & Manufacture (Creative Commons)

Financial services and consumer trust.

August 13, 2014 / Branding, Financial Services
bank branding financial

Every year, CoreBrand releases a report featuring the most and least respected publicly traded companies. This year, the 10 most respected corporate brands are:

1. Coca-Cola

2. PepsiCo

3. Hershey

4. Bayer

5. Johnson & Johnson

6. Harley-Davidson

7. IBM

8. Apple

9. Kellogg

10. General Electric

Not one financial services brand made the list. Companies that make soft drinks, snack foods and cereals are held in higher esteem than those that manage money.

Other research confirms this. According to a survey of more than 30,000 people in 15 countries, conducted by P.R. giant Edelman, financial services is the world’s least trusted industry.

Certainly the financial crisis had something to do with the low trust level. And the high interest rates charged on credit cards. And the Madoff scandal. We could go on and on in listing reasons.

So if you’re a bank, credit union, insurance company or brokerage firm, what can you do to renew consumers’ trust?

Draw inspiration from companies that made the list. Like Apple, for example, a company whose products enrich people lives. Or IBM, a corporation that’s working to achieve a “smarter planet.”

The key to winning back trust: Add value to the customer (and we’re not just talking about interest on a checking account). So what does this mean exactly? A Forbes article published last year, “How Can Bankers Recover Our Trust?” offers some specifics:

Financial nstitutions need to:

• make money the result, not the goal of their activities

• find new ways to secure the financial future of their customers — and make their lives better

• demonstrate that they care about their customers’ well-being, seeing them as people, not wallets to take money from

• see their credit cards as vehicles for helping customers pay down their balances — and warning them of any late fees they’re about to incur

There are other points, but you get the idea. If you’re a bank or credit union, make it your business to find ways to make your customers lives easier, less stressful — and more financial rewarding.

Make your business about human interest, not just the other kind of interest.

Photo: Kimberly Brown-Azzarello (Creative Commons)

Banks and social media. It’s all about the customer.

bank social media financial

In our previous blog, we cited several interesting statistics on banks and social media. Here are a few more.

In a survey conducted in March, Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group polled 1,000+ consumers on their social media experiences with financial institutions. A majority, 52%, said their banks’ use of social media is ineffective. 87% reported it being “annoying, boring or unhelpful.”

Jason Vitug, CEO of Phroogal, an online community where users seek advice on financial matters, has a very good explanation for these negative ratings. According to Vitug, “…banks’ use of social media has been focused on selling rather than helping…on marketing the bank rather than educating. Social isn’t a place to sell, it’s a chance to educate.”

We couldn’t agree more. The key to an effective social media presence for your bank is to make it a platform for nurturing and sustaining customer relationships. In short, make it about the customer, not about you.

Use Facebook and Twitter to offer useful advice on how they can be smarter about their money. Tips on how to save on everyday expenses. Insights on planning for their kids’ college or retirement. News they can use.

Bank social media should be anything but boring.

Photo:  Ed Yourdon (Creative Commons)