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BUILDING FINANCE BRANDS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Yannis Zachos is Head of Strategy at Havas Media International (HMI), part of Havas Media Group

Fellow Havas Media strategist Tom Goodwin managed to capture the spirit of our times in a few lines when he wrote that UBER, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles; Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content; Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory and Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

Yannis Zachos
Yannis Zachos

Digital has successfully disrupted century old industries by overlaying interfaces that remove barriers and mobilise unutilised resources. The finance category is no exception to the rule. Emerging brands such as Transferwise, Square, izettle as well as the heavyweights Google Wallet and Apple Pay are changing the game and challenging the status quo. For finance brands to survive and thrive in this day and age it requires a mix of Brand Meaningfulness, cross functional integration and the ability to adapt to an ever changing media and technology landscape.

  1. Meaningful brands go further

The Meaningful brands survey, released earlier this year, reveals an unnerving stat: if 74% of brands disappeared tomorrow, consumers would not care. Being a well-known brand is no longer good enough to maintain your market position and customer loyalty. Consumers are increasingly looking for more value, not just in terms of quality of service, but they also prefer brands that can improve their personal and collective well-being. The survey also shows that size is not a barrier to meaningfulness, with smaller brands outperforming larger ones even in the finance category, such as PayPal outperforming MasterCard. Most importantly, brands that achieve high meaningful scores see a big pay off in their bottom lines resulting in higher share of wallet versus the competition.

  1. Cross functional integration

There are various ways to build an innovative brand profile, with creative use of media being one of them. However, true potential lays in meshing together product innovation with media creativity. There has never been a greater need for marketing and product innovation to be more integrated. All too often, campaigns fail to portray the end benefits of product innovation or in the worst case scenario product innovation is misguided by passing fads. Putting the consumer at the centre and designing experiences and ways of connecting is the way forward. Digital can become the change agent within companies acting as the common chassis that allows for cross-department integration.

  1. Connecting with Millennials

Since May this year, Millennials have officially become the biggest workforce in the USA. This generation has come of age amidst a global finance crisis that has shaken their trust in established finance brands. Explaining financial products through advisors might have been the go to strategy for baby boomers but it f falls short with Millennials. This is a generation that grew up with technology, enabling instant access to knowledge. Messaging apps and social media are the preferred channels to telephone banking or bank queues. Finance brands need to become more accessible in these channels putting content at the heart of their communication. Virgin Money’s short video guides to introduce basic finance products is a great example of this. Similarly, Nationwide’s approach to enlist vloggers to engage a younger audience about handling their finances.

  1. Investing in systems

Finance brands have a head start when it comes to big data. As research in the UK indicates, people’s relationship with their bank tends to outlast the relationship with their partners. This means that banks have access to a huge depth and quality of data that can provide astounding insights about consumer behaviour. We’ve seen in the past how Amex and Visa were able to predict divorce rates based on spending patterns. However, the opportunity lies in integrating internal data with 2nd and 3rd party data. Through investing in data management platforms or other data fusion solutions, brands can get better in converting knowledge into actionable insights. ‘Big Data’ technology and services are expected to grow more than 5-fold by 2020, an indication that this type of thinking will be mainstream in just a few years.

  1. Consumer centric planning & programmatic buying

Media convergence has been the driving force in transforming the media landscape and disrupting the old advertising models. The online/offline dichotomy is now blurring with TV advertising reimagined as video across screens and print titles selling inventory programmatically. People are watching more video across screens and read even more news on multiple devices and social channels. This requires brands to re-evaluate their media investment approach and adopt strategies that stretch beyond the customer segmentations flimsily translated into bulk buying demographics. Programmatic buying has revolutionised our ability to go after the exact type of customers we need whilst minimising wastage and improving cost efficiencies. Finance brands have the opportunity to be the true pioneers in the programmatic space if they were to utilise the wealth of knowledge and insights they have accumulated over the years.

About the Author

YannisZachos is Head of Strategy at Havas Media International (HMI), which is part of Havas Media Group UK, one of the UK’s leading international media communications specialists. HMI offers a full range of connected planning and buying capabilities across all media platforms at a multi-market level.