The risks and rewards of branding in the finance Sector

It would be hard to find a more powerful case study on the importance of branding in the finance sector, and how quickly trust can be lost, than the fallout from the banking royal commission. Everything a brand says or does will either strengthen or undermine its reputation, and the findings of the royal commission, which have shone a light on the shocking behaviour of Australia’s major banks and financial planners, show just how fragile a brand can be.

A Deloitte Digital report, commissioned by Salesforce and published in July 2018, found only 1 in 3 customers believe the financial services industry can be trusted, and that financial services institutions are lagging behind on customer expectations and need to demonstrate their commitment to putting customers’ interests first.

At Brand & Co, as we celebrate 20 successful years as branding experts, including extensive experience working across the financial sector, we see incredible opportunities for financial brands in the wake of the royal commission.

This is a critical time for brands to take a step back, examine the message they’re communicating, the behaviours they’re displaying, and determine whether they align with the values they want to be known for.

Rebuilding trust and facing the future

Rebranding offers a valuable chance to rebuild trust and repair damaged reputations for some companies, while for others repositioning the business sets them up to face the challenges and opportunities of the future. One of the clear lessons from the royal commission is that finance businesses are also operating in the service sector and should be placing their customers at the centre of their offerings.

While a rebrand may be a smart approach to transition through a turbulent time, it is not without its risks, and if executed poorly can leave a brand in an even more vulnerable position.

Far more than just a new corporate logo, colour palette and typography, an effective rebrand must start with detailed insights into the business and the creation of a fire-proof strategy. A ‘Strategy&’ survey by PWC has revealed that companies find it more difficult to understand their own strengths than to understand their customers. By closing this knowledge gap and leveraging their distinctive strengths to build a clear identity – something unique and consistent over time – they can outperform their competitors.

A proven formula for success

Gaining this deeper level of understanding is a crucial first step in the process Brand & Co follows when undertaking a rebrand. Our work begins with a Brand Discovery phase, a cost-effective risk management tool that clearly defines a business and what makes its offering unique.

During this phase we undertake in-depth market research, interviewing CEOs, board of directors, senior management and other key decision-makers and stakeholders, and identify the brand vision and target audience. This process allows us to create a brand essence, define the brand’s values and unique positioning, and produce a robust strategy that provides a roadmap for the business.

Once this foundation is laid, we take these insights to develop a brand identity and overarching creative concept. It’s during this phase that the visual identity of a brand is brought to life.

Northcape Capital

Based on the effectiveness of this process, demonstrated by our results achieved over 20 years, we were approached by international funds management company Northcape Capital with a brief to refresh their brand and establish a clearly differentiated position in the marketplace. The new brand needed to instill ongoing trust in their customers, and highlight the consistency of their performance, the impressive calibre of their people and the strong customer relationships they maintain.

Visually, the existing branding, including the logo and colour palette, lacked meaning and relevance. The new design needed to feel contemporary and reflect the quality and professionalism of the team.

Our successful rebrand positioned Northcape Capital as a reliable, trusted international boutique funds management company, which could drive growth for customers through their unique, disciplined approach, their integrity and the expertise of their people.

20 years of financial sector expertise

Northcape Capital is the most recent financial sector business we have worked with. Over the last two decades, we have also partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry to redefine their businesses, position them for growth and help them face the challenges of the future.

These include Investec Bank, Beluga Capital, AMP Capital, Macquarie Bank, Bank of Sydney, MST Financial and Colonial Investments.

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