Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Retail Banking Shows Us How To Brand in a Commoditized Industry

By the way, there are lots of similarities between the issues faced by the commercial printing industry and the issues faced by the retail banking industry. Retail banking is just further ahead on the curve. Banks went through a period of years in which retail banking became viewed as a commodity and “all banks are alike” so “just give me the best rates”. As much as banks tried toaster giveaways, nothing worked. As much as banks screamed “we provide great service”, nobody listened. Only in the past couple of years have banks learned that with an integrated rebranding effort they could attract new customers. In their world, they began to distribute banking access to smaller retail outlets closer to their retail customers (which is why there seems to be a bank going up on every corner!) and they began to use their retail space as selling space...that is, as a store (not just a waiting line with ropes and maybe a few chairs to wait in). Today, a contemporary bank is fully branded with visually integrated sales materials, site layout, building design and furnishings, logos, signage, advertising, and programmed digital communications in the bank - all geared towards selling and cross-selling. While retail banking is a far cry from industries such as commercial printing, it does demonstrate that the future is bright for traditional industries that can embrace technology , leverage branding concepts and adapt to changing customer needs not only in the services they sell and production processes, but also in how they communicate. Successful banks are moving away from the threat of commoditization. It can be done in other industries facing commoditization.

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