In a way, every consumer bank is fundamentally the same: They all exist to facilitate commerce by lending, receiving, or managing money.
This is why having a strong brand is so vitally important for consumer banks — and a multidisciplinary communications strategy is the surest way for those banks to bolster or maintain the strength of their brands.
In 2017, we urge consumer banks to look outside the proverbial box and use some newer techniques that many orthodox communications strategies miss.
1. Take out the filter: Banks are often large bureaucracies, and most large bureaucracies struggle to move as swiftly as the news cycle does. This is largely an internal issue that has a tangible solution: shorten the approval process for bringing content to market.
This technique requires the right people who possess sound judgment, but it’s necessary for any bank that wants to communicate and market based on the news of the day.
2. Be more transparent: Banks, it’s fair to say, do not have a uniformly positive reputation nowadays. So diffuse some of the criticism by defaulting to selective but radical transparency.
Use earned, owned, and paid media channels to pull the lid off of internal conversations that used to be confidential, or build an entire campaign around the value of transparency. The vast majority of banks are good corporate citizens, so the true risks should be surprisingly minimal.
3. Float trial balloons: Banks can use the media’s voracious appetite for legitimate news to market-test ideas and proposals on the guts of their business. There are a few different ways to conduct a trial balloon, but the common thread is to orchestrate a news leak and monitor how the market responds.
This is an example of how sound communications techniques can positively change a business strategy. Just be sure to collaborate with management on these initiatives.
4. Participate in brand journalism: This is perhaps the most tangible opportunity communications professionals in many industries have today.
Brand journalism is when the brand absorbs a journalist-like role in reporting things that are newsworthy. We love this technique because, when it is done right, consumers perceive it as as credible as real journalism. Brand journalism is therefore a way to capture the benefits of earned media coverage without taking the risk or making the investment associated with conducting earned media campaigns.
Making room in the communications campaign for even several of these techniques in 2017 could pay dividends for consumer banks.