Now might be a really good time to re-brand the bank. Here’s how to start.

Many financial institutions find themselves mugged by circumstances. The recession has tried men’s souls.  In turn, those men have concluded “the banks” must be responsible for all their problems. Even long-standing customers have become suspicious.

Core deposits are stagnating. In some cases, a bank may have had to disclose bad news, bad earnings, bad loans and, shudder, even the dreaded ‘capital impairment’.

One way out of this is to re-brand the bank. Change the name. Change the look. Re-decorate the building, inside and out. For many financial institutions, this may be a really, really good idea.

But, before you pull the trigger and call in the design consultants, you should do four things first:

1. Survey your employees. You need to know where your institution stands with your employees. So, find out what they know about your customers you don’t; take the pulse of their concerns. Ask them “who is the competitor in the market you think is better that our bank, and why?

2. Survey your customers. Segment your best deposit customers, your best loan customers and your best commercial customers — the customers who pay you the most fees, or provide the cheapest balances. Find out where else they bank and why. Ask them, straight out, these three questions: (1) What is our institution doing that bugs the heck out of you? (2) What are we not doing that we ought to be doing? (3) Would you recommend our bank to your best friend? Close family member? If you would not recommend our bank, which bank would you recommend? Why?

3. Survey your competition. Take a long, hard look at all the banks, thrifts and credit unions that compete for your customers. Figure out where they are (literally and metaphorically). Make solid, sensible and realistic estimate of their strengths and weaknesses.

4. Do a SWOT. Now that you know all the above, figure out where you are Strong and where you are Weak. Determine your Opportunities and the imminent Threats to your success. Decide how you are going to change. Formulate a road map, a strategic plan and the implementing tactics to leverage your knowledge into a successful re-invention of your institution.

Now, and only now, after performing those four steps, can you re-brand the bank. Until you know (1) where you stand, (2) how you need to improve and (3) how you’re going to get there, re-branding isn’t going to be possible.

Oh, yes, you can do a new logo.  And, yes, you can come up with a catchy slogan.  You can also redecorate.  Even bring in a hot shot motivational guy to pump up the troops.  But, none of that is re-branding.  Customers won’t buy it — and it’s very likely they’ll be offended because you tried to fool them, putting a new dress on an old pig.

Lao-Tzu said it best, “The way to do, is to be”.  George Self says, “You can’t “brand” if you can’t “be”.

We know branding. We know SWOTs. We can help your institution re-invent itself. Call us, 800-521-0236.