Bank Branding’s Magic Bullet – Another CxO

This will be short but definitely not sweet. Then again if you are reading one of my articles expecting the latter your segmenting is off.

After all I’ve been writing in the last two weeks about Banks becoming brands before the brands beat them to the punch and become banks, I had a flurry of insightful conversations. Everyone seems to agree the intentionality is inexistent. With the exception of the handful of banks I mentioned starting with CheBanca! no bank honestly wants to become a beloved brand.

Some people will either excuse them as corporations “Forgive them for their are a monolithic structure and can do no better” or accuse them as corporations “Lloyds is big but is i the size of Apple?!? –Judging by revenue – Bizarrely they are nearly as large in terms of employees- How come they can work hard to keeps us in love with them?”.

“Love me or love me not?!?”

The reason why banks have historically done no better in branding is complex and most of it has to do with the evolution and history of these organisations and their relationship with the consumer. Every other band we are quoting has given its relationship with the consumer much more thought and importance than banks have done or even allowed themselves to do.

On the other side, the reason why we get up in arms about this lack of brand as a consumer, is that we feel horribly taken for granted by organisations we already are not prepared to be detangled from and that hurts our feelings.

We can break branding into as many layers as we like and discuss all the departments of a bank and the history behind deposits till the purple cows come home (anyone ever seen one in banking btw?) but it boils down to one major thing: banks don’t value the relationship and consumers feel it.

A bank CxO that’s needed – for a change

How many banks do you know who have a Chief Value Officer? Someone who is in charge of protecting their belief in their customer focus and their real goals and who would zap anyone from teller to CEO when they do stuff against the intrinsic value of the brand? In some cases a Chief No-BS-Officer would do. Note I am not proposing a Chief Brand Officer because that ought to be the CEO and everyone else who ought to be invested in the soul of the company to make it happen. I’m just asking for someone high enough and invested enough to remind everyone in the bank about the ethos behind the fancy mission statements. Someone to say “We lost our religion around here. Our religion was to serve the consumer. To even help if we can. To make their experience enjoyable, preserve their value and create more value for them. Their value is our value. Get back to protecting and making it.”

Some banks have de facto CVOs – most are the Experience Supermen I was talking about here, just last week Saxo Bank created a new role-a Chief Experience Officer and went outside of the organisation to get the best person for it, and some – very few- banks have other CxOs who understand the value of talking about value (sic!) such as the legendary Michael Harte who speaks about creating it every chance he gets and whose personal religion about this has made CBA the immensely profitable bank it is today but most are infuriatingly far from comprehending why getting a CVO would help.

The Magic Bullet of Bank Branding

Building value means a lot of things and is a major task but for someone with enough IQ and drive and a the heart in the right place it can be done. Not alone, a CVO would need each and every of the other bank employees to pull this off. A CVO would not do away with the Business Prevention Department just build more bridges. A CVO would not ease the immense IT and Ops back-logs, just vehemently point to which of those are value building. A CVO would not stop the incessant, utterly disconnected from consumers and sometimes reality discussions about divisional P&L but would show the bonus worriers how to create value first then watch the rewards pour in.

Get a CVO banks and try to get one of the “Empowered Few”, maybe even an “Eager Beaver” and even better an “Outsider” and not a “Deadwood”, “Incompetent” or definitely not a “Retired-to-Be” (as per David Brear’s genius classification on the Financial Brand) because if you get a CVO you’ll magically grow a brand.

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