Dave Burch, publisher of the blog, Tomorrow's Transactions, and number six on The Financial Brand's "25 Most Influential Voices in Banking," said it ever so succinctly. "Identity is the the new money."
Said less succinctly, "being who you are and being able to prove it is cash." Burch's stock in trade is technology and currency, not branding. But his insight is a valuable one for bank branding and bank marketing as well.
Of course, the primary purpose for developing a bank brand is to generate more and better relationships and transactions. A branding strategy outside of the context of measurable tactical objectives such as capturing dda and core deposits, is nothing more than a decorating exorcise. Bank branding best practices recognizes this reality, which is why top branding agencies employ techniques that start with the long-term business strategy of the bank.
Your mom probably told you (if she didn't, she should have) that the best way to attract the right significant other is to be yourself. It's the same with banks and their customers or prospects.
A good brand agency will create visual elements that make a community bank look stylish. But a great brand agency will systematically develop branded sensory expressions that will make the bank look, feel, and in every way seem like the best-case scenario of itself-brand authenticity. This is crucial, because looking like yourself will make you attractive to customers and prospects who best fit a bank like you.
This is more true today than ever. Anything false about a brand's expressions will become the object of parody, ridicule, or outright hostility in the social media universe. But, knowing how to be yourself in public will make attracting the right customers like making water flow downhill.
Who are you? Really? What do you stand for? Really? What would your bank rather go out of business than change about itself? To whom is that most attractive. These are all questions that speak to the core of branding. Because, now more than ever...
"Identity is the new money."