Every CEO I meet is fighting a battle, not only against their their competitors, but to raise capital, to keep up with technological change, to deliver value (read profit) to shareholders and to maintain and grow market share. Surely, this is the front line? So why would I say that Brand should be the number one KPI in your business? Let me explain.
It is true to say that many Banks around the world offer a similar set of consumer products. For banks, these are current accounts, loans, credit cards etc... and they carve up these offers to ‘personalise’ them for segments that have identified as crucial to the growth of their businesses. In telecoms, there are also similarities in the rudiments of business - network coverage and bandwidth.
So, if this assumption, although it is rather simplistic, is correct, then what is the key differentiator. The magic something that drives consumer choice... it’s Brand.
And there are countless examples of companies in both sectors who have forged a leadership position by crafting beautiful compelling brand experiences. That not only attract and retain customers, but attract and retain the best employees.
An example I always use when I discuss this with clients is Orange.
During the 1990’s, in the UK, a new phenomena was born. Under the stewardship of Hans Snook, Orange was founded. A small network with big ambitions. The big question posed by Orange was ‘how can we be different and attract the best staff and customers to our brand?’
What the management team at Orange realised was that in order to win, they had to be relevant, have a special something that set them apart from their rather stoic competition. They realised that the mechanics of a mobile phone network, are very similar regardless of the network provider. They also realised, that the only real differentiator was Brand Experience and invested heavily in building this.
The impact was dramatic. As we now know, this business went from nowhere to number one in the UK market and grew exponentially across the world. Customers were ‘with Orange’. Orange was a part of who they were, it in part defined them, a young and dynamic brand that made mobile telephony and mobile data a lifestyle choice - if you weren’t ‘with Orange’, you weren’t current.
The company had an aura - a brand glow - created by it’s attention to brand. And because of this the company attracted and retained the best staff, each of whom understood the business and their role in delivering a brand that won in a highly competitive market... and they attracted the best and most affluent customer too - those that were prepared to pay more for a service that enhanced their ‘lifestyle’.
There are countless examples of companies who have used a similar strategy to dominate in the sectors they operate in. So why are we not seeing this in Banking?
I believe that the Banking sector has to wake up to the power of Brand Experience in attracting and retaining customers and the only way to do this is to be creative, change the old way to a new Brand and service based model that redefines the relationship they have with their customers. It is time to continue to develop the mechanics of business, update and improve technology and process, but this means nothing if it is not delivered to customers in a meaningful and relevant way.
So, my message to CEO’s this week is ‘continue to develop your business systems, drive change and evolution in technology, but please, set your organisations KPI’s so each and every staff member understands the value of brand and their role in delivering a meaningful and relevant experience to each and every customer regardless of their segment.’