Rebrand Your Bank: 10 Steps Toward Success
In our 20 years as a full-service advertising agency, we’ve helped a number of banks and financial institutions undergo rebranding campaigns. Armed with a new creative approach, these clients are always excited about their future as a new brand — but they’re also seeking guidance on how to get there without losing customers or brand value along the way.
After assisting in the successful rebranding of Origin Bank (formerly Community Trust Bank), we reflected on ten steps we’d recommend to any financial institution looking to evolve their brand. Keep reading to get the best out of your bank’s rebranding efforts.
10 Steps for a Successful Bank Rebrand
Step 1: Ask yourself if a rebrand is absolutely necessary. Financial and banking institutions are often urged or even required to change their name due to an acquisition, merger, geographic expansion, or trademark conflict. If your brand is not facing one of these issues, re-examine the cause behind your desire for change and double-check that investment in a rebrand will pay off.
Step 2: Examine the values of your current brand. Just because your bank is changing its name doesn’t mean it has to change its values. For example, if you’re a local bank with strong ties to the community, don’t lose sight of that advantage as you transition your brand. Reflect on the core values and goals that have brought your bank to where it is today, because they’ll likely be what you need to succeed in the future. This advice is especially relevant for the financial sector, where customers’ emotional connection with their banks is even higher than that with their car or grocery store.
Step 3: Know the rules. Before you become too attached to a new name, check to make sure that it’s even an option, legally speaking. Ensure that your potential new brand name isn’t already registered by another financial institution. Start by checking your brand name in the US Patent and Trademark Office database under International Class 036, which is the entity’s financial services category. You’ll also need to receive clearance from the regulatory body your bank operates under, such as the Office of Financial Institutions or the National Credit Union Administration. Once you settle on a name that is not registered, check to see what website URLs are available for the name.
Step 4: Involve key stakeholders early on. Although you’ll want to keep your new name and logo under wraps until they’re official, it’s a good idea to get key stakeholders involved in rebranding efforts early on. If these influencers feel included before the official launch, they’re more likely to be your advocate when the name change is announced.
Step 5: Future-proof your Branding idea. Make sure your new brand name reflects your future business goals and also resonates with your customers before you launch it. If your budget and timeline allow, we recommend conducting customer surveys or focus groups to better inform your final decision. Considering that consumers' perceived levels of power when it comes to influencing a bank are quite high — even higher than their perceived levels of power for everyday items like snack chips and soft drinks — it’s crucial to remain relevant to your existing customers as your brand evolves.
Step 6: Go gradual. Keep at least one element (such as a word, color, or shape) consistent between your old and new brand to reduce initial customer confusion. Tell the story of your rebranding process during the launch so that customers can see how your brand has evolved. For example, we helped Origin Bank expand their website to include a brand evolution video, letter from the CEO, and FAQs about their name change.
Step 7: Prepare your team. According to The Financial Brand, holding an all-staff brand orientation is the #1 internal action you should take to deliver on your brand’s promises to customers. Therefore, your staff is essential in the smooth launch of a new brand. Prepare your team so that they can intelligently answer questions from the press and community members.
Step 8: Prepare the press. Give the media as much information as you can about your rebranding efforts as early as possible. The easier you make it for reporters to share your news, the more likely they’ll be to share it in a positive light.
Step 9: Start small. If possible, launch your new brand with top-tier customers first before announcing the transition to the public. According to one recent study, affluent customers cite service as the most important offering from their bank; they mentioned “service” more than six times as much as they did “rates and fees” or “branches.” With this in mind, it’s important that these high-value customers feel valued by your brand — not only so they’ll keep doing business with your bank under its new name, but also so they’re inclined to recommend your bank to friends.
Step 10: Take your time. It’s easy to let tight deadlines drive your marketing and advertising decisions during a rebranding campaign — but hasty decisions can lead to long-term damage. Schedule regular meetings to revisit your marketing goals and progress so that you know you’re moving your brand forward in the right direction.
Think we missed a step, or need help taking that first one? We’re ready to talk. Contact Zehnder today.