Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Brand: What Really Defines Your Brand? Marketing May Develop the Brand, but "Living the Brand" Is a Shared Responsibility

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Brand: What Really Defines Your Brand? Marketing May Develop the Brand, but "Living the Brand" Is a Shared Responsibility

Article excerpt

It's not your logo or your slogan that defines your brand. Your brand is defined by the experience your customers and prospects have when interacting with your bank. But many banks still treat it as something owned solely by Marketing.

Marketing plays key role, but ...

True, it was the marketing department that started it. Marketing initially developed brand attributes, logo, colors, and tag line. That combination serves as the visual representation of the values you want associated with your bank by the clients and communities you serve.

Marketing also focuses on managing and protecting your brand by ensuring consistency in the look and feel of any advertising or messaging. Marketing diligently reviews potential sponsorships or affiliations based on the perceived connection with brand.

I can't overstate the importance of this work. Your brand will help consumers form their initial impressions of the bank and reinforces the advantages you offer to existing clients.

It's no wonder that Marketing is viewed as "owning" the brand.

But all that Marketing does is not the whole job of managing and maintaining the brand. Brand ownership is a shared responsibility.

Inconsistency in messaging will confuse consumers. And the client experiences that are inconsistent with your brand's promise will kill it--utterly.

Power of your brand lies in service

Before becoming a client, a consumer began to build perceptions about your bank. These perceptions were, in major part, formed through your marketing efforts--plus word of mouth, and, today, even through social media channels.

But all those perceptions represent the promises--implied, or sometimes explicit--stated in your advertising and the external/visual representation of your brand. These promises--be it your exceptional service, your promise of the best rates, or your commitment to convenience--establish new clients' expectations.

You wouldn't enter a Walmart looking for exceptional client service. And no one shops at Nordstrom expecting the lowest prices. The promises you are making will determine who is most likely to bank with you and why.

The consistency of that message and your skill at delivering it in a compelling way--right message, right medium, and right audience--is a major factor in why consumers choose to learn more about your bank and even open an account.

That is the initial power of your brand. You've created an expectation in the mind of the consumer about the benefits of choosing your bank. And that expectation will either be reinforced or shattered every time they interact with your bank--be it with staff or an app.

Every action, a thumbs up or down

View every customer contact as an opportunity to pull a client closer, because each time the customer deals with your bank, you stand the risk of blowing it.

Most banks recognize the importance of extending their brand presence through the appearance of their branches, ATMs, public website, online banking site, and app. The consistency of messaging, colors, and the general look and feel all work to reinforce the expectations of consumers and clients.

But again, all that is the wrapper on the gift. The true test is: Are customer expectations being met? Does the experience of banking with you--from researching your products through the first attempt to open an account or apply for a loan--match the expectation set by your bank's branding efforts?

How about after they become a client? Does the experience of performing a transaction, learning about and buying additional products, or resolving an issue match their expectations?

It is during these moments of truth where your brand promise meets the client experience where you have the opportunity to bring the client closer or push him away.

Living the brand

Consistently delivering upon your brand promise takes concerted and sustained effort. …

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