Trust… Easy to Say, Hard to Live Up To

If you speak to most brand managers I’m sure you’ll find that a brand attribute they all strive to own is Trust with a capital T. Trust is fundamental to the success of obtaining and keeping customers. With this in mind its been interesting to watch some of our major banks over the past few months as they try to convince their customers they can be Trusted.

ANZ is currently on TV with a set of ads that seeks to differentiate them from the competition with the line ‘ We live in your world’. Using flat, uninspiring images of a ‘competitive’ bank, and a comedy sketch format,  they paint a picture of the competition as slippery,economic with the truth and unaccountable. ANZ by contrast is none of those things. Cue bright branch environment, smiling staff member to welcome you. At ANZ they understand you because they live in your world.

Similarly Westpac was recently on TV promoting its approach to banking by using their managers to tell us about the new branches that are opening. These were real, named, Westpac people, talking heads, all in open neck white shirts, who nervously delivered their one line pledges to customer service. In there own way both ads are saying the same thing – trust us, we understand you, we are you, we have your interest at heart.

Do they work, are they worth the marketing investment? I started my working life in bank marketing and since then I’ve worked with a number of major banks and financial services organisations, in the UK and Australia, on their marketing and communication strategies, so I feel eminently qualified to comment (frankly, as does any bank customer!)

My advice is it’s as simple as this – actions speak louder than words and  when it comes to banks many of their actions over the last few years have been Trust breakers.

Consider branch closures, the demise of the local manager as a trusted community advisor and the way the banks have behaved (or more correctly misbehaved) over passing on interest rate rises in recent times.

While the ANZ ad made me smile and does a good job in caricaturing what  the customer would see is wrong with banks it still felt like a big bank telling me it could be trusted – am I going to believe they are any different just because they say they are?

Whilst the managers on display in the Westpac ads seemed nice enough people, and I applaud the effort to increase frontline contact as a step in the right direction, I didn’t get the feeling they would be able to do anything about my  ‘Trust’ issues. Significantly Westpac was being hammered by the media (and the government) for its interest rate policy at the same time they were on TV. negating any positive feelings I might have for what is in fact my bank.

So what can the banks do to build Trust?

The latest ‘Eye on Australia’ report by Grey and Sweeney Research has found Australia’s 10 most trusted brands were :

1. Salvation Army 2. Google 3. Australia Post 4. Medicare 5. Bunnings 6. Cadbury 7. Sanitarium 8. Uncle Toby’s 9. Kellogg’s 10. Nokia

One things all these brands have in common was that they touch the lives of Australians every day  – the lesson they teach is don’t tell us what you stand for, show us what you stand for.

Storm and Brand DNA is a creative brand agency that works with many clients to help them define and demonstrate what they stand for . If you’d like to know how we could help your brand give us a call.

Malcolm Harvey
Client Experiences Director


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