A bank that is proud to be boring

I am always impressed by brands that have the guts to break the mould and just be proud of who they really are. While most bank brands spend millions telling us how they are different, can do, live in our world and help us win, one brand is bold enough to be proudly boring.

Telling the truth in banking can be the compelling and refreshing but it needs to go beyond advertising.

Honesty can go a long way in building a truly strong brand connection as Montana 1st Credit Union discovered.

In the Montana, described in the Urban Dictionary as the “most manly state in the union where men head-butt bison and punch trout in the face…” it seems one brand realised the locals are not that flashy and don’t want a financial institution that makes false promises – they just want a brand who they can relate to.

Instead of creating meaningless acronyms, Montana 1st embraced their compelling differentiation. A concept that most would see as a negative brand association; being boring.

The credit union’s describes their brand personality as ‘comfortable funk’ – confident, fun, laid-back, easy to be around, and not too serious – just like Montana.

After the GFC, Montana 1st needed to reassure members that their money was safe. They needed to rebuilt trust and more importantly stand apart from others in the market.

The brand narrative of ‘being boring’ instantly sounds different from other brands. It has a refreshing honesty that cuts through the crap that others are dishing out.

Billboards were posted across the town and a custom website was created to celebrate being boring.

“When it comes to your money, too much excitement is the last thing you need. Especially with all the ‘stuff’ in the news lately. Sensible, safe, and dull is more like it. Boring is sexy these days, and Montana 1st Credit Union is looking good.”

I especially like the “prudently boring the socks off Missoula for more than 78 years. Just ask your grandpa” – it takes a lot of guts for a financial company to say this.

However, it seemed to stop at a campaign and microsite. Their main website and brand identity is not only boring, it looks dodgy and unprofessional. Unfortunately, while the initial campaign was bold, its seems to have been considered in isolation from the rest of the brand and nothing has really been done since it was launched two years ago.

Apart from a few token efforts to link the campaign into product names such as the Plain Vanilla Auto Loans, it still feels like a bit of a promotional gimmick rather than a true mantra for the brand.

What a missed opportunity! They could have injected the campaign spirit into the entire brand identity, its people and its products and services. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem the appetite to do this, and it will probably be all watered down even further as Montana 1st has now merged with Horizon.

Michael Hughes
Brand Strategy Director
Follow @logiculture



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