The Co-operative Bank rebranded from PSIS after it got its official bank license last year. And while it kept pretty quiet about the change, it has come out swinging with a new campaign via Y&R that flips the typically negative response to the announcement of record bank profits on its head and aims to show it’s a bank that’s “driven by your prosperity, not our profit”.
Sadhana Raman, who spent ten years at Kiwibank and is now general manager – marketing and online at The Co-operative Bank, says the first phase of its evolution was pretty low-key. “But the second phase is being a bit more overt about it.” And, as chief executive Bruce McLachlan said in the Herald, this campaign is considered to be the bank’s ‘official launch’ into the New Zealand market.
Raman says this is a milestone year for the 85-year-old institution. And, befitting a brand that has big aspirations, it has hit Kiwi TV screens for the first time with a campaign shot by Luke Shanahan of Robber’s Dog.
It also has a new visual identity courtesy of Y&R Design that will be rolling out across its 31 branches nationwide in the coming months, with the bank’s new logo incorporating an infinity symbol, or “prosperity loop”.
Both Kiwibank and, more recently, TSB, have played the local ownership card in an effort to gain customers, and while Raman says it will certainly be attempting to drum home its local roots, she says the strategy is to focus on the fact that its customers get a share of its profits (it handed out a $1 million rebate to its customers in late June after reporting a profit of $8 million last year and while this model may be unique in New Zealand, she says it’s very well known in the US, Europe and the UK).
“I think we have a really unique story to tell in the New Zealand market. There are other banks that are New Zealand-owned. And we think it’s important to get that across. But it’s not the way that we’ll make people think differently about us.”
The major challenge, she says, is simply getting the public to know the bank exists. Brand awareness is starting from a very low base, but growing something almost from scratch rather than taking over something that’s already in orbit (semi-related humorous opinion piece about businesses and orbits here) is a challenge many marketers relish and she’s confident it can achieve its lofty goals.
The bank currently has 128,000 customers, and it is focused on personal banking, with a small business banking offering as well. She says it has a clear five-year strategy and there are no immediate plans to expand into other areas like business or rural banking in that time. But it is definitely aiming to expand its numbers, with a goal to double customers in the next five years and double it every five years after that. It is also expanding the number of branches, with a specific focus on Auckland, where it currently has seven and hopes to add an extra ten over the next few years.
She says the bank is at a similar point in its brand development as Kiwibank was when she started there (she took some time out for travel and consultancy work before joining The Co-operative Bank late last year). And her experience with Kiwibank, which gained 800,000 customers in ten years, proves that “becoming a credible alternative” to the big banks is definitely achievable. But another part of the challenge was that “we needed to make this an evolution, not a revolution” and maintain the things it wanted to keep from the PSIS days, particularly the high customer service ratings.
No figures have been given on how much is being spent on the campaign, but Raman says it has been received very well so far, with great feedback on Facebook and in the branches from a number of proud customers.
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Josh Moore
CREATIVE DIRECTOR/WRITER: Scott Henderson
ART DIRECTORS: Lisa Dupre, Mark Tallis
WRITERS: Scott Henderson, Cam Dowsett
HEAD PRODUCER: Christina Hazard
GROUP ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Elaine Bickell
SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER: Claire Dooney
MANAGING DIRECTOR/PLANNER: James Hurman
IDEAS DIRECTOR: Jason Wells
HEAD OF DESIGN: Musonda Katongo
MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER: Michael Frogley
DESIGNER: Leon Williams
STUDIO ARTIST/DESIGNER: Tim O’Neill
HEAD OF DIGITAL: Bruce Murray
SENIOR DIGITAL DEVELOPER: Mark Coleman
MEDIA DIRECTOR: Grant Maxwell
MEDIA PLANNER: Kate Thompson
TRADING DIRECTOR/TV BUYER: Cath Hamilton
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Robber’s Dog
DIRECTOR: Luke Shanahan
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Mark Foster
MANAGING DIRECTOR: George Mackenzie
PRODUCER: Caz Hearn
DOP: Ginny Loane
EDITOR: Michael Lonsdale
FLAME ARTIST: Stefan Coory Blockhead
AUDIO POST: Franklin Road