Pitching for a bank name change in Malaysia

Last Friday we were pitching against 4 advertising agencies to a Malaysian bank. Essentially, the brief was for a name change and to create awareness of the name change in Malaysia. We were invited to pitch despite being a data driven brand consultancy. In fact I had personally discussed this fact with one of the corporate communications representatives at the bank.

He told me that if we went into the traditional FusionBrand pitch (We had presented to them 12 months ago) we would not get very far however, if we presented a ‘traditional re-brand’ pitch and suggest the FusionBrand approach for after the name change then we might generate some interest.

So, much to my chagrin, we pitched in the traditional way and suggested that this was only half the battle and what the bank also needed once the population was aware of the new name was a strategy to get prospects and customers into the branches and to buy product(s) and so on.

As my colleagues presented, I was imagining how the other agencies would make promises based on their new “positioning” of the bank.

I found myself thinking that what sort of a position could an agency offer the bank that would make them stand out from all the other banks? What position would make consumers cast aside their ingrained perceptions (not very good) of the bank? How would a new positioning strategy encourage prospects to walk into branches? And once they had walked into those branches, how well preparred would the staff be to sell to them?

I already knew that one of our competitors was a global agency but because they are very busy they were outsourcing the creative element so it was unlikely (though not impossible) that they would have the best talent in the market working on the creative.

And then I thought how could the bank make inroads into existing markets using the same type of ‘positioning strategy’ that all the other banks are using? Sure, the tactics might be different, then again perhaps not, but the positioning strategy, of finding a space in the consumers mind would be the same.

I also thought of how tumultuous the world is at the moment and how any positioning ‘strategy’ that had been implemented before the global economic crisis would be a worthless (and expensive) waste of money now because the world is a different place compared to even a year ago. What if something similar were to happen in the next 6 months, as this bank’s positioning ‘strategy’ was implemented? Would they too waste their valuable resources?

I also thought about my own issues with my bank and how, despite numerous negative experiences over the last 10 years, I was still with them. And yet during that time, I’ve seen so many ‘re-brands’ of banks or financial institutions, RHB, CIMB, Bank Islam, etc, all of them used positioning to influence me and hope that I would become a client (I didn’t and I wonder how many did. I certainly don’t know anyone who has changed their bank in the last 5 years).

It made me realize that the FusionBrand approach, where we use customised research to deliver actionable data, operational excellence as the foundations for the brand strategy, brand planning to eradicate the hope mentality, and segment specific communications that resonate with those segments alone and meet the economic, experiential and emotional needs of customers and prospects in those segments. Metrics and measurement that ensures valuable marketing resources are not wasted are what is required to build a brand in the customer economy of today.

The issue of course, is whether the bank knows this! I will let you know how we get on!

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6 thoughts on “Pitching for a bank name change in Malaysia

  1. The banks will never get it. They are still having tactical campaigns with unattractive promotions. Or spend a bomb on advertising when all they should do is increase the number of branches, having atms that work, have good customer service etc. I wish you luck man

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    • Hey Carmen

      You are right, the banks are only focussed on tactical campaigns that are aquisition focussed and often make claims that are dubious at best and downright fraudulent at worst. They also dilute their brands by employing kids to accost you on the forecourt of a petrol station or outside a supermarket to sell credit cards and have no idea how to communicate with customers, especially when issues arise. But as liberalisation continues they will lose market share and hopefully start talking to us!

      FYI we didn’t win the bid and I’m not surprised. The bank is under the impression that when they announce their new name consumers everywhere will flock to their few branches and beg the bank to take their life savings! Of course it won’t happen. Then hopefully they’ll call FusionBrand!

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      • The problem with most banks is their decentralized purchasing systems, which means all departments are doing different things at the same time. Not to mention most of the people who work there are so politically driven. Every decision needs to be justified in a short-term sense. Building a brand takes many good decisions overtime. It will be a good thing is they ever realise their mistake but don’t count on it.

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      • Hi Carmen

        Thanks for your thought provoking comments. I agree wholeheartedly. Not only are they all doing different things, they are not communicating and sharing data and knowledge. The political element means they protect those departments they would protect their offspring and see every attempt by other departments to communicate as a threat with an ulterior motive.

        And I agree, all decisions are short term tactical projects. There is no strategy because strategy is too long term and might make someone else look good later.

        Building a brand does take time. And the first step is the organisation because the organisation is the brand and the internal brand must be addressed first. Any branding project also requires the buy in of the CEO. If the CEO doesn’t have the interest or the inclination to see it through, then it won’t fly.

        From where I sit, Malaysian branding projects fail for 3 reasons:

        1) misunderstanding of what a brand is and what the goals are
        2) focus on external communications without looking at the delivery
        3) poor project management and lack of understanding and interest from CEO

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