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Brand Everywhere? Thinking Outside the Bank Branch

Miller Zell and our banking and financial services partners share a belief about great branding. An elevated brand experience can take place wherever a bank wants to interact with customers or potential customers.

The overriding goal is to be purposeful and customer-driven with every touchpoint.

So while in-branch branding and customer experiences still must be exceptional, particularly if a merged bank is rebranding, there also are valuable branding opportunities outside the branch, most notably through sponsorships or community outreach.

While these touchpoints are decidedly different than a typical bank branch, that doesn’t mean there aren’t critical goals to pursue and best practices to follow.

To successfully brand outside of a bank branch, there are five key areas to focus on.

Maintain brand consistency

While “brand consistency” might sound obvious, it’s always Point A for beginning concepting and design. The venue and audience might be significantly different than a bank branch, but your design must be brand-right — logos, colors, fonts, messaging, etc. — wherever it appears.

This focus nurtures a specific brand identity, which distinguishes your bank from its competitors. While even your loyal customers probably can’t name your bank’s CEO or details of your financial offerings off the top of their heads, most can see your logo and immediately name the bank.

Authentic engagement requires situational awareness

Are sports fans or country fair or art & wine festival attendees likely to open a bank account at a pop-up venue? No, though even temporary locations can be fully digitally integrated, just in case a potential customer conversion appears.

Still, this is a brand interaction that shouldn’t lean hard into the transactional. While in-branch customers likely are laser-focused on a specific task — and even stressed out about it — fans and passersby are seeking fun and authentic engagement.

Therefore, strategize specifically about blending your brand into the event itself and the sorts of customers it attracts. Sports fans, for example, might enjoy an AI experience that allows them to take a picture in which they pose with their favorite home team athlete, a photo that then can be shared on social media with your logo.

A co-branding experience needs to engage, impress and connect with fans or attendees by expressing a shared regard for the moment. If your brand story is seamlessly integrated within the event, it will feel authentic and foster a rapport for future connections.

Embrace user-generated content

While a bank branch typically doesn’t inspire “Instagrammable Moments,” a special event venue not only can, it should.

The purpose of an outside-the-branch venue is to generate engagement for fans or event attendees, and a great way to do this is via potentially shareable moments, such as photos, AR interactions and QR codes, which also can provide useful traffic and user data.

User-generated content can drive brand awareness while cultivating brand-positive interactions. Both provide potential pathways to new customers.

Associate training outside the branch

Whether it’s a pop-up at a community event or a sponsorship booth at a major professional sports venue, in most cases associates will be on hand to introduce or guide passersby — potential customers — into your branding activation experience.

They are your brand ambassadors, so they must not only know the parameters of the assignment, they also need to embrace it as something they are proud of and eager to represent.

A critical part of the customer experience you’re trying to curate and cultivate depends on the associates on hand enthusiastically embracing the interactions between person and venue. They not only need to know what to do, they also need to feel comfortable and valued while they are doing it.

Anticipate site conditions

One size doesn’t fit all outside the branch. A brand activation inside an indoor sports venue is different from an outdoor one, just as one at a concert should consider the sort of music that is being played and the customers it might attract.

For example, Miller Zell partnered with Citizens Bank for a brand activation at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and then did the same at venues for the New Jersey Devils and New York Giants.

While Phillies fans are undoubtedly familiar with Citizens Bank, it is a new brand for New York and New Jersey sports fans. So the presentation there needed to function as an introduction.

Moreover, the Giants stadium pop-up was outside and, in terms of materials, build and maintenance, needed to account for potential challenging winter weather moments.

Our design and execution teams knew each space was different, from build materials to presentation to associate support to fan engagement offerings, and they made accommodations to meet specific needs.

One final point… always collect data, analyze results and value engineer.

Every time you create a brand interaction for potential customers, you learn what works and what might not. These should not be seen as a one-off pop-up, as they are now part of doing business. Conduct a project retrospective afterwards and focus on the design development process, thereby ensuring efficient execution and the best possible material costs going forward.

Branding outside a branch that resonates with potential customers provides an opportunity to distinguish you from your competition. When executed strategically and purposefully, it can become a value-add that pays for itself.