Is your Brand overworked and underutilized?

Online branding requires brands to convey their prime strengths effectively without being ambiguous. Here’s what marketers need to do to ensure that.

I was recently working on a User Interface assignment for the Corporate Bank. Turned out it was the same bank I used to work for years back…. Though I used to work for the Retail bank I still felt the strong family bond weighing me down!

I can certainly vouch for the stellar services commitment that this bank stands out for. And yet, as I was thinking through the dynamics I hit this wall:

While the Bank has done so many good things, it was hard to know what was distinctive about the brand

As I dug further, my instinctive thought was validated. It became clear that the cluttered Corporate Bank Interface was ONLY a symptom of a deeper problem. The issue of width of services and of being forced into lines of services and opportunities that doesn’t make the best use of the Bank’s core and distinctive strength.

Net, net — The Brand ends up being overworked and underutilized. And its easy to see how Brands like this Bank wind up like this because:

Reason 1: Good Brands are driven to achieve. For example a hugely successful Cash Management Services line doesn’t neccesarily mean a home run with Treasury and F/X operations

Reason 2: The Board of Directors see an extremely capable team and make a convenient assumption of Capable with X equals Competent for Y. And this results in a set of services that the bank is not geared to handle.

Reason 3:Good brands are powered by capable people with a reputation as “go to” people. And non core set of services or products are handed down to these capable people and their teams. As a result both the brand and the employees lose out.

Reason 4:Oh! but we’re a bank and this product or service logically is part of classification tree. How on earth can we exclude Personal Loans from our Asset Products when we’re already offering Credit Cards is an assumption at best NOT a reality!

Most of the responsibility for this lies with the leadership teams of these brands. CEO’s and CMOs need to be more deliberate and discerning in navigating their brands.

The harsh truth is, that at any one time there is ONLY one piece of real estate we can “own” in our customers’ mind. Using a people metaphor its hard for our customers to think of us as a project manager, professor, attorney, insurance agent, editor and entrepreneur all at exactly the same time.

Do our customers think of us as credit card providers, personal loan providers, mortgage lenders, working capital financiers and reliable investment advisers? While they may all be true about us but people can only think of us as one thing first. At any one time there is only one phrase that can follow our Brand .

Remember Google pulled out of the Video platform, since it couldn’t be seen as one by its audience.

Finally I have a question for the leaders:-

Might we be better served by asking, at least occasionally, whether the various services and products actually add up to the bottom line?

Being able to offer a breadth of services is important for banks today, but understanding distinctive Brand strength will truly serve everyone best (and in this case sharpen the online branding initiatives). Instead of simply doing more things we need to find the Brand’s highest point of contribution.

The failure to be conscientious here is a crime. I see a lot of good brands capable of being great commit this offence. This causes this brand to be forever overworked and under utilized, well not to mention the unfortunate same effect on your employees.

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