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Connexus : Issue 43
T he emergence of customer-owned banks in the past two years has been driven in part by the need for more competition in a market skewed towards the big banks. At the same time, credit unions and building societies have str uggled to connect with a younger demographic who generally view banks as more relevant to them. Change is rarely easy, and convincing thousands of loyal members that becoming a bank was in their best interests was challenging, says Theresa Mason, chief sales and marketing offcer at Teachers Mutual Bank. "We were just coming out of the global fnancial crisis and banks were copping a lot of blame for what went on inter nationally," she says. "People were feeling the pinch and we were still in a rising interest rate environment. "Many of our members associated the ter m 'bank' with a lesser experience and the move was unexpected." Getting approval from a majority of members was mandatory before any rebranding campaign could be rolled out. "We had to really engage with them and explain why we wanted to change -- in order to target new customers and the younger generation for whom the ter m 'credit union' didn't resonate. At the same time, we had to demonstrate the personal value in it for them in the form of improved products and ser vices." The rebranding strategy involved creating a non-bank-like logo. It wasn't a matter of what people liked, but what they could respond to and what advantage that could bring to Teachers, with banking being such a crowded industry, says Mason. "It was a bit of a risky approach, but we felt it represented our brand promise and our essence and personality -- that we aren't a traditional bank. Rather, we're a friendly, approachable bank that exists for the beneft of its customers as owners." QT Mutual Bank positioned itself as "cleverer than the banks", spearheaded by a TV advertising campaign. The former credit union had to introduce its new brand, as well as the new category of mutual banking, says marketing manager Chris Moses. "As a challenger brand, it was important for us to deliver a campaign that had cut-through, given we don't have the large budgets and media frequency afforded by the big banks." The impact of the rebranding campaign, which began with a mystery Defining moments Rebranding as a bank is as much about winning over your existing members as it is about attracting new ones. BY SUE PEACOCK Marketing 42 Connexus