Most would agree that throughout this economic crisis no industry sector has taken a bigger reputational hit than financial services-related names — the whole group from banks to brokerages and insurance companies. On the inside, it feels like the epicenter of the current global economic predicament.
Before all this, financial services were one of the most vigorous industries in terms of brand investment, rivaled only by consumer goods and durables like cars. Despite the headlines, financial services companies continue to promote their brands; in many cases with only moderate adjustments to the messaging. My company is still investing in our carefully promoted brand, too. Is it possible to swim up stream in terms of branding financial services? I think it is.
In fact, today we launched our next phase of paid advertising supporting our ongoing brand campaign. Some may feel that the current image of financial services is too damaged to allow companies to expect to sustain their brand. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought.
Now is not the time to dial-back on building a brand. Despite the turbulence in the economy and the air of concern many Americans may have for any company tied to investments and lending, they still need banks, brokerages and insurance. Sure, the task may be harder for a company that’s called on the carpet by the government, but many financial services companies are still doing what needs to be done for their customers, and they’re proud of it. In fact, many companies — like mine — believe this is a true opportunity to demonstrate our brand promise.
We’ve been listening to what matters most to our customers and our business partners, so our latest advertising is a natural evolution of a campaign we launched in 2008 that focused on the importance of identifying and calculating the amount of money individuals need to have saved up by the time they retire. The new phase of the campaign now emphasizes the importance of "protecting" that number for the long-term, including a revamped Web tool (www.INGyournumber.com) to make it easier for visitors to calculate and protect their retirement savings. We learned from a March 2009 survey that nine out of 10 consumers thought "protecting" their retirement savings was as important as building it. So, our new television and digital advertising address these concerns and prompt consumers to take action.
How do you react to financial services brands these days? Are some efforts better than others? Why? Would you continue to promote your brand message if you were in the financial services industry?
If you happen to see our latest "protection" messages, let me know your thoughts.