Three Pitfalls That Can Sabotage Bank Brands

By Martha Bartlett Piland 

There’s a war on for customer attention. Here are three tactics to help your bank win. 

Bank brands are under attack like never before. Competition is fierce and aggressive. Players from new industries are seeking to lure customers’ money away from FDIC-insured banks. Pitfalls abound.  

While you strategize on fending off the marauding outsiders, be sure you’re not accidentally making your brand more vulnerable because of your own actions. 

Here are three common mistakes we see on a regular basis—and how to combat them: 

1. Brand (battle) fatigue 

A lack of consistency in brand and sales promotions seems to run rampant with some institutions. It’s as though the internal marketing people have grown weary of the same Pantone blue and gold and Century Gothic serif font. They start mixing things up. We call it brand fatigue. 

Different product campaigns suddenly appear with varying color palettes, fonts, photography stylesor worse: alternating illustrations, bugs and photos from one campaign to the next. real life example: a rogue branch decided to order bank logo attire with cute fonts and colors to match the local football team’s colors. 

You may be tired of seeing the same colors, fonts and styles, but your audiences have not. You see these elements for more than 40 hours each week. Your audiences see them far less often. Don’t assume your brand look has run its course because you’re tired of it. Audiences need that repetition and reinforcement of your brand and what it offers. Don’t distract and confuse them. 

Famous brands like Nike have been faithful to their slogans and logos for decades. Their audiences are faithful, too. Can you cover up the logo in an ad and immediately identify which institution is advertising? If not, there’s a serious problem. It means money put toward developing the ad and paying for the media is tragically wasted.  

 2. Surrendering too soon 

When developing new creative campaigns in-house or with their agency partners, some institutions make the mistake of falling in love with their first idea. They give up on pushing ideas further and settle for sameness. 

Lack of originality runs rampant. Superheroes, toasters, blue skies and other stock photo clichés are nearly ubiquitous in advertising from one bank to the next. While some of these concepts may be fun, they’ve been done to death. 

If you look like and talk like everyone else, no one will know who you are. So be sure you’re pushing past those first team brainstorm ideas. Dig deeper to uncover the gold nuggets that really set you apart.   

3. Forgetting to hoist the flag 

Many times, banks launch product and sales promotions that are completely disconnected from their brand. Offerings that have no connection with their “why and their purpose camouflage the brand and reinforce a commodity positioning. 

The long version of your story is the language you use, the stories you tell, the songs you sing and the camaraderie you share with colleagues and customers. They should all work together. 

But your logo and slogan are like your country’s flag: a shorthand symbol for your brand’s meaning. The flag stirs hearts and minds. It gives focus and rallies the people. But if you forget to raise it—or leave it in the dark—the people will lose their way. 

What are you here to do? How are you delivering it? Why should people give their allegiance to your brand? Make sure the signal is loud and clear. 

There is no substitute for victory 

Protect your brand equity from the inside out. 

Whether it’s an ad campaign, an employee recruitment effort, social media or volunteer mission, it must surround and support your brand. When it does, your strength will be incredibly difficult to overcome. 

Martha Bartlett Piland is president and CEO of Banktastic, afirm that helps financial organizations build better ROI by aligning their internaland external brands. national speaker on branding, marketing, business development and advertisingPiland has served on three bank advisory boards and is a regular contributor to ABA Bank Marketing.