Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is your bank’s brand on parade?

Summer is the time for community festivals and parades. No doubt as a local banker you’ll want to haul out all the crepe paper and chicken wire you can find to create that prize-winning float. Participating in that Main Street parade shows you’re part of the community. In fact, it’s a unique and fun-filled way to reach out to townsfolk. And, it’s a great team builder for bank staffers as well. A lot of goodwill can be mustered during that mile and a half trek down the street.

But as a bank marketer are you watching what your branch banks are floating down that street? Is it in keeping with your bank’s primary message?

Creativity, camaraderie and enthusiasm.
You don’t want to stifle the branches’ creativity, camaraderie and enthusiasm. That’s priceless in itself. And you don’t want to be heavy handed in dictating a theme for a local festival. After all, the local bankers are part of that community and festival, while you’re not. They can judge the pulse of the community easier than you.

Finally, it’s understandable that community banks don’t have the funds or the professional assistance like Key Bank did for their terrific float depicted here for a Portland parade. And, it can be humorous to the crowd goers to view the makeshift floats being pulled by cars, trucks and tractors.

Beware the cringe factor.
It might be in your bank brand’s best interest to outline a rudimentary image requirement before branch staffers go parading down the street. I’ve seen a number of bank messages that made me ask, “What were they thinking?”

Recently I cringed when I saw this crudely emblazoned on one community bank float filled with Hawaiian décor and lawn chairs. . .

Relax. Your $ is safe with XYZ Bank.

I’m not sure that a comical float was the proper venue for proclaiming the bank’s solvency. Especially, in light of the recent bad publicity of large bank bailouts and small bank failures.

Setting guidelines for your next parade float.
Set standards for local festivities. Let your crew be creative, crazy and community-inspired, but within reason. Here are some questions you need to ask when establishing guidelines. . .

- Are your branch managers or staffers sensitivities the same as the parade goers lining the streets with their lawn chairs?
- Does your bank’s attempt at humor or creativity illicit another image in the community’s mind?
- Is their dress or costume too sexually explicit?
- Is the theme too adult and not family oriented?
- Is your theme getting your message across without destroying your brand?
- Are there spelling or grammar mistakes in your hand-printed signage?
- How is your logo or tagline being used?
- Will your next float illicit smiles or gasps?

While your next float might not always project your brand exactly due to monetary and creative restraints, the guidelines will at least protect your image. Think about setting guidelines so your float doesn’t become the talk of the town. . . negative talk that is.

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