Adapting Brand Experience Marketing for the Financial Industry

Posted by Samantha Stallard on February 27, 2017
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Banks and financial institutions have, traditionally, been cold, brick fortresses without much character or personality. This stoic professionalism is intentionally designed to make clients, and their money, feel safe. While it accomplishes that, it certainly doesn't make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside - though the free lollipops help. You can keep those on the counter, guys...

Financial marketing is often just as rigid as the bank vault's its advertising, partially due to maintaining that trustworthy air, but also because of strict regulations within the industry concerning what information can publicized and how. Because they can't risk being the first industry to take a chance on a new marketing tactic, banks typically follow the success of other industries - which actually works to their benefit by giving them an advantage in brainstorming what to do next. They can borrow ideas from other brands and still get consumers' attention.

As brand experience marketing exploded in media, with sponsorships, mobile tours, pop-up stores, proprietary events and stunts, banks were slow to start. Local branches could put out a folding table with free pens at a high school football game and label the afternoon an "experiential marketing initiative." While that's a start, this type of marketing strategy is best executed on a corporate-level, creating buzz and social attention for everyone, regardless of location and baseball prowess

By showing up in high-energy, high-fun locations that don't scream "low interest rates" or "free overdraft protection" like music festivals, award show parties, or art openings, banks can do several things:

  • They place themselves where consumers are in a place that’s already exciting and inviting
  • They prove that they want to interact with the customers and communities they serve
  • They can offer their products/services to people they might not reach otherwise

Even at these otherwise awesome events, talking about finances is still boring, especially when attendees are more focused on listening to music, drinking with friends, or keeping their kids entertained. Banks and financial institutions must meet consumers in the middle. Try turning a lesson on personal finance into a game or provide a high-value incentive for opening a new account.

Unsure of how to start? Here are some top-level examples from banks and financial institutions leading the pack:

1. Capital One

Capital One's partnership with the NCAA provides them with annual sponsorship opportunities during the Final Four tournament weekend. In 2016, the financial corporation hosted Capital One JamFest, during the final weekend of March Madness in Houston, TX. Performers included hit makers Maroon 5, Pitbull, Flo Rida, and Aloe Blacc.

This year, Fan Fest presented by Capital One will be held at Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. The event will be jam-packed with youth clinics, giveaways, concerts, interactive games, special appearances, sports-related autograph signings and much more. By aligning themselves with the NCAA, college basketball fans have grown to expect, and look forward to, a Capital One activation each year.


Photo courtesy: NCAA 2015

2. TD Bank

TD Bank is well-known in the financial industry for being an experiential marketing pioneer. Their #TDThanksYou campaign involved setting up Automated Thanking Machines in several major Canadian cities. Inside the large booths, brand ambassadors handed out thank you gifts, including cash, flowers, and a chance to throw the first pitch at an MLB game. Though a giveaway seems like a simple idea, banks aren't known for handing out free money, so consumers responded positively, and wanted to win the valuable prizes.


Photo courtesy: Forbes

3. Wells Fargo

Attendees at the Livermore Rodeo in California were the first to experience Wells Fargo's virtual reality Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 headsets - but, the bank went on to share the technology with consumers at local events across America. During the activation, consumers were invited to play a virtual maze game which included social media components.

At each event, the activation space included a photo booth, Oculus Rift headsets and a WizDish ROVR locomotion platform that consumers stand on to play the virtual maze game. In the game, participants collected as many gold coins as possible before time ran out. Some Wells Fargo branding was woven into the game and brand ambassadors were on hand to help navigate participants through the maze.

By introducing a trend to a new audience, Wells Fargo proved themselves to be cooler and more in-the-know than the "banker" stereotype, while creating the opportunity for positive, digital sentiment through social media shares and mentions.

 Video courtesy: WizDish VORV YouTube

4. PayPal

PayPal kicked of their experiential initiative by partnering with other trusted brands that had run successful brand experiences in the past. First, they cross-promoted their Partner Programs with AT&T and Target, producing activations that educated Jamba Juice customers about how to use their existing accounts to pay for IRL purchases, not just online.

They also ran a “Meet the Speakers, Mobile Office Hours” event in partnership with Uber at a high-profile conference. Participants hopped in an Uber and spent 30 minutes driving around with a conference speaker, giving them an opportunity to ask questions or have a more in-depth conversation. 

Whatever tactic you choose, execute with the goal of creating a positive association between your brand and consumers.


Photo courtesy: PayPal


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Topics: experiential marketing, go beyond, brand experiences

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