La Macchia Group

In today’s digital age, where consumers have abundant choices when it comes to financial institutions, banks must offer more than just competitive products. They need a unique brand that connects with their audience, conveys values and distinguishes them from the competition. In a recent study by Deloitte, 82% of financial services executives reported that they believe strong brands are a key differentiator.

In fact, according to a survey by Edelman, a global communications firm, 81% of consumers say that they need to be able to trust a brand to buy from them. The same goes for financial institutions: their brand shapes how consumers perceive a particular bank. A brand encompasses not only visual elements such as logos and color schemes but also intangible aspects like reputation, customer service and corporate values. By crafting a positive brand perception, banks can instill trust, credibility and reliability in the minds of consumers, ultimately influencing their purchasing decisions and driving loyalty.

Before we dive deeper, it’s important to have a baseline understanding of what a brand is. First and foremost, a brand is not a logo. Sure, a logo is part of a brand, but it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With icebergs, what is seen is only 20% of their actual size, the remaining 80% is submerged.

The strength of a brand comes from that hidden 80%, where strategic research and planning informs how we want the consumer to feel when they see the visual elements. The hidden 80% is comprised of key elements like:

• Vision
• Voice
• Values
• Target market
• Unique selling proposition (USP)
• Offering
• Differentiation
• Competition

A foundation of a strong vision, voice and values inform meaningful brand elements and marketing plans. But how does a bank know if their brand is hitting the mark? Do the customers trust the brand? The three most important factors that contribute to a brand’s perception are:

1. Values
In a report by 5WPR, 83% of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they expect brands to align with their values. That underlines that it’s important for banks to be honest and authentic about who they are and who they’re not, along with what the organization stands for. Customers have choices, and younger generations are looking to corporate values to understand if they align with their personal values.

2. Repetition
Repetition is key, especially for brand recognition. However, it’s not repetition for the sake of seeing how many times your bank can get its brand out there. How your bank advertises its brand must be meaningful, authentic and communicate a clear and concise message. People need to see the brand 5 to 7 times before they will remember it.

3. Consistency
If you put the brand out there inconsistently, that 5 to 7 times won’t add up. Consistency speaks to credibility and trustworthiness. If the bank’s brand — as conveyed through logo presentation, marketing materials and in-person interactions — is not consistent, how can a consumer trust that the bank can deliver consistent experiences, products or services?

Perhaps the brand already focuses on the bank’s values, repetition and consistency. How can one know if it’s effective and gain perspective into the thoughts of the customer? There are two primary methods to help collect and understand this data:

1. Conduct outreach, requesting customer feedback on experiences with the bank’s brand.
2. Perform market research efforts with a trusted partner in the industry space.

The first method is more surface level, but nonetheless a step in the right direction. The second method is an extremely valuable investment toward a long-term partnership that will not only build a bank’s brand but also its footprint across the communities it serves.

A bank brand that has a handle on its market presence through existing or newly acquired data will be able to:

● Understand if the brand is expressing itself consistently.
● Know if the brand experience aligns with the why.
● Understand if the market connects with the brand in the intended way.

Ultimately, a robust brand strategy not only enhances the bank’s reputation but also solidifies its position as a trusted partner in the communities it serves, laying the foundation for long-term success and customer loyalty.

La Macchia Group

Since 2002, La Macchia Group has been a labor of love for Ralph and Mary Lou. With its beginnings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a trusted design/build firm servicing banks and credit unions, it is now a nationally recognized powerhouse in the financial services industry.