By Mark GibsonThere are many good reasons to undertake a rebranding effort at your bank. But whatever the reason, it should begin with a clear definition of what your institution hopes to achieve and how you are going to measure success.
Measurement and metrics are essential to successful rebranding. Only by defining and monitoring them will you be able to assess the strength of your brand—and whether it is helping you achieve the business and growth objectives you set out to accomplish.
Although financial marketers understand the need for the brand measurement, many have struggled with it over the years. At conferences, it’s common to hear CMOs talk about how easy it is to precisely measure digital campaigns, but how much harder it is to measure the effectiveness of multi-media branding campaigns. In one survey, half the marketing executives and more than two-thirds of the non-marketing executives admitted they had not established the ROI measurement of their branding expenditures.
We clearly want to do better than that for our rebranding initiative. But how? What should we be measuring and how do we capture the information in a timely manner?
Start with the strategy
Rebranding should not be some fuzzy, amorphous, feel-good project. It should be done for strategic reasons. Some of the most common strategic reasons include:
- Broadening geographic appeal
- Modernizing the brand to be more relevant to younger segments
- Improving net household growth to fuel core deposit growth
Janel Maysonet, CMO of Avidia Bank, explains: “Rebranding is part of our strategic plan and [it]will help us grow $100 million of core deposits within five years. We have identified which customer segments that growth will come from—and the media plan is allocated to our lines of business and product categories to achieve that growth.”
And then there is the brand-positioning strategy. What does your brand stand for now in the marketplace, and what do you want it to stand for? How do you compare with your competitors on attributes that are important to your target customer groups?
Maysonet says, “We identified through our research the special qualities that we ‘own’ and we identified some emotional opportunities that might set us apart from the larger banks.” Avidia’s previous tagline, she notes, emphasized innovativeness and technology. “Even though we do offer great technology,” she says, “we found that was getting lost in the shuffle of all the big bank ads.” She points out that advertising on customer service is a common domain for most community banks. Through research and creative, they developed a new tagline—Honest to Goodness—along with “language and creative that is refreshing, honest and makes you smile. We’ve designed it to talk about things people really care about, rather than specific products or features, which many banks focus on.”
Determine the critical metrics
Once you’ve identified rebrand objectives that are strategic and relatively long-term, it’s time to discuss the specific categories that should be measured. Research and data firm Kantar highlights three key points in the buyer lifecycle that can be influenced by branding: experience, exposure and activation. Michael Million of branding firm Full Surge offers up two additional categories: consumer perception and behavior—or how your brand is performing inside the organization. Let’s explore each of these five categories and how they might be relevant for your rebranding project.
- Experience – This is a recognition that brands are not just what a company says about itself. At least as important is the experience the company provides to its customers. This can be measured in a variety of specific ways (ATM uptime, call wait time) or more broadly with a satisfaction and loyalty measure like net promoter score.
- Exposure – This is what we normally think about when building a brand: How do we use creative and media to get in front of the people we want to attract as customers? Metrics in this category are unaided awareness, familiarity, consideration and preference.
- Perception – A subset of exposure is not just whether consumers are aware of your firm, but how they think and feel about your brand. Metrics include performance scores on important selection and satisfaction attributes like “friendly personal service” or “mobile banking features.”
- Activation – Next, bridge the gap between predisposition (that is, “I like you and want to do business with you”) and actual purchase. To do that you have to understand the path-to-purchase and influence the target prospects along that path to select your company. Website traffic reports and sales conversion rates are common metrics in this category.
- Behavior – This category looks at how effectively an organization’s employees understand the brand and bring it to life with colleagues and customers. Common metrics here would be employee engagement scores, brand understanding scores and cultural alignment.
Back at Avidia Bank, Maysonet explains her metrics: “We have immediate and long-term metrics. The fast awareness metrics are website visits, brand search lift (from paid search) and digital video views. Down the funnel KPIs include account open clicks for retail and lead form submissions for commercial. We should have a good idea of performance as early as 90 days out. Longer term, we will be measuring the full suite of awareness metrics on an annual basis. Being able to measure everything and prove out our ROI will be really important to us.”
Get specific about your metrics
Since your objectives should be clear from the beginning of your rebranding effort, so should your KPIs. While you’ll want some broad metrics relating to the strategic reason for rebranding—increased awareness and sales in markets where the brand is new—you’ll also need the more specific brand-related metrics in at least several of the five categories outlined above.
A solid example of a rebrand metric scorecard might look something like this:
- Strategic – Increase share of Gen Y market from 10 percent to 20 percent
- Experience – Increase net promoter score from 30 to 60
- Exposure – Increase unaided awareness from 10 percent to 25 percent and preference from 20 percent to 50 percent
- Perception – Increase performance on convenience among prospects from 6.5 to 8.5
- Activation – Increase annual net new household growth from 0.5 percent to 2 percent
- Behavior – Improve highly engaged employee score from 35 percent to 70 pecent
Keep in mind, the specific metrics you choose depend on your bank’s unique strategy, current performance, and competitive situation.
Additionally, says Stephanie Gonthier, EVP of Market Street Research, “the project team should push for hard KPIs that tie into measures that the executive team already pays attention to. However, in addition to these broad measures, like deposit or loan growth, be sure to include measures that are more specific to the rebrand. There can be many external factors—like the economy or interest rates—that can negatively affect the broad top-line measures like loan growth.”
Make sure your executive team understands the metrics
Marketers sometimes forget that the bank executive team is made up primarily of financial types who may not be schooled in marketing. It’s your job as a marketer to educate them on how marketing and branding work—what we like to call “the math of branding.”
For instance, when calculating the ROI of rebranding, it is essential to understand the math associated with awareness, consideration and preference. Some banks may have very high unaided awareness, but because of poor service may not convert much of that awareness into preference and purchase. Think about banks in your market that are currently resorting to “buying” new customers with large cash incentives.
Alternatively, a local bank with loyal customers and positive word of mouth may have a fraction of the awareness of a bank with a widespread footprint—but may have very high preference among those who have heard of it. This high preference can translate into the local bank attracting a high number of new customers in the market.
This is how the math of branding works. Calculating what one percentage point of consumer or business market share is worth helps you determine how much money your organization should be investing to increase awareness and preference. It also helps you calculate the ROI of your rebranding effort.
Don’t forget to include customer experience metrics
If advertisements are the voice of the brand, think of the customer experience as the delivery of the brand. Customer experience must be measured and enhanced and measured again across the rebranding effort if the business results are to be achieved. This can’t be emphasized enough. The brand needs to come to life when customers visit the website, sign onto online banking or bill pay, use the mobile app, ask a question in the branch or call customer service with a problem. The project team needs to ensure that all touch points—branch, website, mobile banking, call center—deliver on the new brand promise. Metrics should be identified for each of these channels to ensure the desired experience is being delivered.
Establish your measurement and reporting at the start
Now that we’ve identified what we are measuring, we need to establish how we are capturing the information, how we are going to report it, and who is going to receive the reports. Remember, this too needs to be determined before the rebranding occurs.
Each metric has a unique measurement process, but here is one example.
We know that digital media impact is typically easier to measure, but the impact of traditional media can be measurable too. At the most basic level, you can perform an A/B test, one with only digital, and one with both digital and traditional. Beyond that, you can look at digital response immediately following a TV or radio spot (searches, website visits).
Reporting should be done at least every six months, with quarterly being ideal. The report should be as short as possible, ideally a one-page dashboard for executive consumption. You should get on the executive committee agenda at least twice per year to review the progress, what the team has learned and what modifications are being made as a result.
Final considerations for success
Measurement may not be the most creative phase of a rebrand, but getting it right can make the difference between success and failure.
“Be deliberate about the timeframe for measurement, and choose a variety of KPIs so that you can get feedback early enough,” advises Gonthier. Although it may be helpful to have feedback six months after launching a rebrand, she says, if you have only been in the market with a campaign for a short time, measuring certain types of impact “could be disappointing, and even damaging for the effort.” Get the executive team on board in advance about timeframe for gauging impact—and be realistic. A rebrand can likely have a measurable impact on existing customers faster than an effort to increase awareness and preference among the general population. So plan on different timeframes for measuring different KPIs, according to what’s appropriate and realistic.
Finally, don’t think you need to do it all yourself. Partnering with your finance team and the lines of business most likely to receive the biggest benefit from a rebrand can really help in figuring out what the most important measurements are. But be careful about having too many. It’s much better to have three to five KPIs that really make a difference—and are relatively easy to track—rather than 20-30 that take three months to gather and report.
Rebranding is one of those large-scale projects that a marketing professional only encounters a few times over the course of a career. Getting goals and measurement right can help ensure that it’s a project you will look back on with pride the rest of your career.
Mark Gibson is senior consultant at Capital Performance Group, a strategic consulting firm that provides advisory, planning, analytic and project management services to the financial services industry. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.