In the past few years, the financial services industry has faced some extensive challenges. Since the Australian Banking Royal Commission’s recommendations were handed down, there have not been many brands within the sector that have escaped completely unscathed, even if by the simple association of being within the financial services sector. Consumer confidence and trust in financial services brands have been greatly affected. New entrants including neobanks such as Volt, 86400 and Xinja, digital fintech brands such as PayPal and Tyro, subsidiary brands of the major banks such as Ubank and BankWest have all emerged to take advantage of these gaps in consumer trust with the traditional players.
For financial services brands, it is time to listen, learn and act. There has already been a major shift from a sole focus on profits and share prices to a focus instead on customer needs and breeding a positive culture and community.
With significant rewards for customers, brands and shareholders, it feels like this is the moment to take positive action.
In a brand sense, this could result in a rebrand or a refresh with a new positioning, values and brand story. It will take some time to rebuild the trust lost, however, looking at the examples of some financial services brands such as ING, Bank Australia and Future Super, being values-driven is definitely resonating with consumers.
When reviewing the business case for rebranding, financial service brands need to start from the inside by understanding the state of play within their organisation:
The opportunity to rebrand presents a number of benefits for an organisation and it’s critical to weigh the benefits against the risks. Undertaking brand research can provide the answers in understanding both the positive and negative perceptions towards a brand which informs both strategic and tactical brand decision making.
In the world of marketing and branding, everyone (absolutely everyone) has an opinion or personal preference. With an objective, external evaluation of a brand to inform decision making, brand strategies and tactics can turn into a nightmare of the loudest voice or strongest opinion. Employing the objective outputs of brand research ensures a brand can position itself appropriately within its competitive context and take advantage of any identified areas of positive differentiation.
Conducting brand research can help mitigate the risks associated with a rebrand. It starts with gaining a deep understanding of the market, customers (both current and potential) and competitors (existing and new entrants). For organisations with long-standing, loyal customers, research can evaluate how these customers will react to a new brand. Understanding the response of current advocates can be the difference between success and failure of a rebrand.
The general sense in the financial services market is that consumers are hungry for positive change. One year on from the recommendations of the royal commission, forward-thinking financial services organisations have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition by considering an investment in a rebrand.
Rebranding presents an opportunity for an organisation to align and clarify its brand message, create or redevelop a new positioning and values. It also presents an opportunity for organisations to realign internal culture and create a magnet to attract new talent.
Once a rebrand has commenced, it is vital to ensure it is executed efficiently and communicated effectively. A smooth roll-out of a rebrand with minimum overlap between the two brands will avoid confusion both internally and externally. Central to this is always referring to the outputs of external, objective brand research, the critical analysis that will keep a rebrand on track and on message.
If your organisation is considering a rebrand, we have recently released an updated Guide to Rebranding, feel free to download it as a good starting point in the consideration process.