Archive for the ‘branding’ Category

One of the biggest purposes of word of mouth marketing for your bank or credit union is to create a higher level of brand engagement. Simply put, WOM helps give people a reason to care about your company.

That’s why we were excited when the cool folks at the Credit Union Times called our friends at CBC for their thoughts on the important topic of brand engagement. They also then called our partners at Market Insights, and the resulting article, Engagement: One Size Doesn’t Fit All, is chock full of excellent insights from CBC and PSST!’s Jeff Stephens and Market Insights’ Brady Walen.

We think you’ll like the article. Check it out: Engagement: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Don’t Forget CBC’s Brand Engagement Webinar on March 30, 2011

Also, since you’re into brand engagement, don’t forget to register for the upcoming webinar by our pals at CBC, Brand Engagement: The Holy Grail for Banks and Credit Unions.


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Our friends at WOMMA have defined word of mouth marketing as:

“Giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place.”

For any company, this is easier said than done–admittedly. For banks and credit unions, it’s proven to be extremely challenging, for two reasons: a) banking isn’t really all that worth talking about, and b) marketers in banking are largely only experienced in fairly traditional marketing means.

I’m here to tell you that the hardest part about word of mouth marketing for banks and credit unions has nothing to do with marketing. Instead, it has everything to do with the first part of WOMMA’s definition: “creating something worth talking about.”

You see, creating a bank or credit union worth talking about is not about marketing. It’s simply about creating a remarkable company. It’s about creating a Purple Cow (in Seth Godin language). It’s about making the guts, the insides and the real essence of the company–not just the facade–special and interesting.  If you think of WOM as marketing, it’s easy to slip into a mindset where WOM is about creating interesting packaging; a buzzworthy cosmetic exterior people will talk about.

What further solidifies this problem for the financial industry is that creating an interesting marketing facade is easy (just pay an agency to do it for you), while creating a truly buzzworthy company is very hard (requiring lots of sweat equity and commitment to change). And in the banking industry, we tend to take the easier route…only to find it that it creates only fleeting buzz, if any at all.

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ManifestoCover-MediumOur teammates at CBC have announced the publication of their newest position paper, The Decommoditization Manifesto: Part 1. This downloadable position paper is the first in a series discussing how entrepreneurial banks and credit unions can break free from the chains of being a commodity in a commoditized industry. As the series is released, the key relationship between word of mouth marketing and decommoditization will unfold.

If you’re interested in how your bank or credit union’s overall competitive business strategy relates to word of mouth marketing, you will enjoy this series of position papers. CBC has provided the following brief excerpt from the introduction:

Tired of Being Powerless Yet?
It’s not easy to be a leader at a bank or credit union these days. Your board, your management and your colleagues demand results, results, results (read: growth), and you’re on the hook to deliver. That’s a lot of pressure.

The worst part is that you very clearly have little-to-no control over your growth. It feels like your only way to grow is win the pricing war on both sides of the balance sheet, but you know that’s not a sustainable strategy. You’re courting consumers like mad, but you have almost no ability whatsoever to influence them. In short, you have no control over your own destiny—you’re completely at the mercy of the consumer, who has all the power. Bummer.

Take a moment to step back ask yourself why that’s the case. Why does the consumer seem to have all the power in that relationship?!

To find out, download The Decommoditization Manifesto: Part 1 now.

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We’re pleased to share with you the brand new website for our teammates at Creative Brand Communications: www.creative-brand.com

CBC’s site is built to accomplish two main goals:

1) Distributing unique educational content about experiential brand development and multi-sensory marketing for entrepreneurial banks and credit unions. 

2) Giving prospective clients a good sense for what it’s like to work with CBC.

We hope you’ll take a moment to look around the site. CBC will be continuously adding unique new content to the site’s Expertise section, such as new case studies, position papers, presentations and webinars, ExpEditions e-newsletter…and of course blog posts on The Story.

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While I don’t really like their clothes, Diesel has a history of great branding and marketing, (more here). Today I discovered their newest campaign, Be Stupid, which includes print, outdoor and online components. The microsite is a simple, bold design that communicates in a daring, irreverent and in-your-face tone. Through Be Stupid, Diesel is actually promoting the “relentless pursuit of a regret free life.” Their definition of “stupid” is acts that are spontaneous, adventurous and reckless. The campaign glorifies people who take the road less walked and don’t play it safe. This is well aligned with the Diesel brand identity, which has always positioned itself as high-end casual wear for cool, creative, sexy and rash young adults.

Print ads depict models doing idiotic, daring activities with “Be Stupid” printed at the bottom of each ad. The interactive element comes in with the microsite, which asks “Are you doing something particularly stupid right now… like starting a band, building a tree house or creating an art installation?” This is in fact a call for entries for Diesel’s new music video, which will feature 100 creative individuals from all over the world doing “stupid” things. It’s great self-promotion for those who are selected – in addition to promoting their new collection, Diesel will direct viewers to the winners’ personal websites and social networks.

With all the artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc. out there, it’s hard to get one’s creative work showcased. I have a feeling this is going to get a lot of entries, some of which will be so ridiculous that they go viral in their own right. Hopefully winners are selected based on the “stupidity” and creativity of their entries, and not just on the way they look. (Though knowing Diesel, that’s probably a long shot – they want creatives who “look” like their brand.) I look forward to seeing all the stupid fun featured in their music video!


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I know I’ve railed on Bank of America in the past, and they have deserved it. But I like their latest use of cause marketing because it supports young, local artists. When BofA took over LaSalle Bank in Chicago, it decided to put the building’s gigantic wall space – seen by about 400,000 people each day – to good use. The bank paired with the nonprofit After School Matters to launch a contest, called “Arts in Chicagoland”, in which area teens competed to have their design recreated on the wallscape. Covering the 8,600 square-feet of surface would be a creative challenge for anyone!

Not only does the contest showcase young artistic talent, it also gives those kids a foot in the door to work in creative fields. The creative director of BofA’s agency (BBDO) gave the students a creative brief to work from, much like they would get in a real job situation. The winner, a 16-year-old from the University of Chicago Lab School, has already been offered the chance to have her work exhibited in a gallery. Pretty impressive stuff for a high school student applying for colleges in the near future!

Regarding the mural, BofA’s VP of enterprise and channel marketing states, “…This is just such a great demonstration of starting with something amazing and creating a program that gives back to the community in an unbelievable way. It really takes our cause marketing activity to another level.” She has a point – if BofA owns the building, they could have painted a massive logo on it, let others advertise on it, or just left it blank. But instead they used it to show the art of a young local student, whose uplifting work will intrigue and inspire passerby each day. I hope they don’t let be a one-off thing. It would be great to see the artwork on the wall rotate every 6 months or so. The community would appreciate it, it would generate buzz about the artists, and positive PR for the bank.


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Genworth Financial’s “Ovation” Campaign, which began around Thanksgiving (November is Long Term Care Awareness Month), recognizes and celebrates the 120 million Americans who care for elderly family members each day. This is the first time I have ever seen a marketing campaign specifically targeting current or future caregivers. It’s actually a huge market that I would imagine has unique financial needs.

According to Genworth’s press release, “The campaign… is a fully integrated campaign comprised of both traditional and social media components… To complement the TV and online ads, Genworth has also launched a Facebook Fan Page, which enables people to share stories and offer advice to other caregivers, and features a longer 45-second ad… Caregivers are also invited to log onto http://www.genworth.com/celebrates to share their stories, or those of their friends and families. People are also encouraged to visit Genworth’s “Cost of Care” center, its “Let’s Talk” long-term care website as well as YouTube to learn more about caregiving.”

Nowhere in the press release is any product mentioned. After looking around Genworth’s website, I came to the conclusion that the campaign promotes their long term care insurance (they are, after all, an insurance company). However, it is not mentioned in Genworth’s “Ovation” television ad, on the campaign Facebook page, or on the Let’s Talk section of their website.

Rather, the focus of the campaign seems to be more about providing useful information and encouraging adults to talk with their aging parents about future care options. This is smart – Genworth comes off as more of a resource than a company hawking insurance. Even if some of the audience are not yet caregivers, I bet that Genworth might be one of the first names they think of as a resource when the time comes around. And for those in their audience who are caregivers, it’s probably nice to be applauded for something that is often an emotionally and financially difficult job.

The Wall on the campaign Facebook page encourages people to honor caregivers with a comment. The page is very popular, with over 8,000 fans and numerous comments every day. Clearly, the topic resonates with many. The campaign represents a good integration of traditional advertising and social media. It might spawn some word of mouth too. If I knew someone who was becoming a caregiver, I would probably tell them about Genworth’s site.

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