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BY GEIIRGE IT'$ A PR(IMI$ING BANK

The promise made by St George.

Every year brands make promises to their custgmers, yet every day those

promises are broken, Heres to keeping the branders honest... the branch environment and the

communication and interaction with staff. customers expected

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the environment to be designed primarily around their needs and

&

CONSUMER banking is infunating. While the banks are forced

to make loftier brand Promises to increase market share, the cost- cutting being imPlemented at street level ensures that few of these promises are kePt.

The suspect St George Bank-HaPPY the Dragon orDorothy the Dinosaur?

The promise The most recent 'Big enough.. . small enough' outdoor advertising appeared soon after the "Peo-

ples' bank" went to air with a series of TV ads that featured actual staff talking, documentary-style about their customers, along with 'Happy' the dragon vacuuming the office. The campaign is clever, versatile and more than a strapline. The associated brand attributes sPeak of confidence, capability and inno-

vation while demonstrating

a

humanitarian focus and the ability to solve problems and understand customers' needs. A true best-in-show performance.

What you think ln

an effort to compare Promoted brand promises with actual cus-

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tomer experience and consumer perception, Brand Behaviour surveyed more than 150 random consumers from a varietY of demographic backgrounds. The results were very encouraging for St George and ia communication counterparts. More than 617o of

respondents said they saw St George as a more personal bank than is competiton, and 547o said that they trusted St George more than the other banks.

The expectation Having studied all of the extemal communications issued by St George, we asked customers what they expected as a result of the latest brand promises. The two areas of focus were

aspirations and service to show consideration for their particular circumstance.

The deliverv: Environmedtal

The delivery: "Still very serious and ollicial"

St George's extemal signage and

the promises being made.

brightly coloured ATMs certainly stand out in the typical banking clusters found along the shopping strip. The image Portrayed has an air of youthful freshness with an almost irrev-

erent poke in fun at the more corporate stories being told bY its larger competitors-

The cracks start

to

appear,however, when you are confronted with a fully glazed window sporting a single inePt poster advertising home loans (as if we didn't know). Banks have always had a fear of dressing their windows effec-

Despite

a

wonderful campaign,

ttre cold generic in-b,ranch

Human Following an uninspiring journey from the front door to the teller, on most occasions we were greeted by a very generic "Hi" or "Can I help you?". This initial interaction was saved on occasion by a generous amount of eye contact, creating the impression of sincerity. Remembering we were looking for confidence, capability and innovation while demonstrating a humanitarian focus, we casually asked, "What does

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accented with corporate brush strokes fall plumb into the consumer banking paradigm that we are all too familiar with.

Fluorescent lighting, fake plastic trees and a distinct lack of the personality conveyed so well in other communications, led us to believe that St Ceorge

had somehow misunderstood

the value of communicating through environmental design. The human interaction expe-

all this 'big enough, small

rience could also be better. Obviously, branch staff have responsibilities. Responsibilities

tively or offering compelling views through them and St

enough' stuff mean?". Most tellers became uncom-

to the organisation and more importantly, its life blood, the

George is no excqrtion.

fortable at this, some wanting us to repeat the question. Itwas areal shame thatthe staff didn't seem to be empowered to support the advertised story. As we continued to chat, the majority of tellers displayed a genuine desire to understand our needs and provide sound advice. This

customer. Understanding and preparing to communicate in a manner that is in line with promotion-created customer expectations is the first sign of a brand that has integrated is promises and associ-

Choosing to advertise some-

thing in your window that is offered in all the other banks seems a wasted opportunity. Surely, at this stage the message

should still be designed to entice new customers by showing them what's different and special about St George? Upon entering the branch we were presented with a full-height

banner reiterating the brand promise. This is good, not only because we're being reminded of the promise, but St George is obviously passionate about it. But what does it mean to me, with my individual circumstance today in this particular branch? Unfortunately, this is where I am Ieft dumbfounded. Aside from a few branded posters and the St George corporate colours brushed counters, this could be

any bank. Where's the youthful innovation gone?

may well be a result of St George' s recent implementation of a new sales and service model, and it served to reflect some of the promised values, despite the

this super-competitive market. Our insight indicates that many

staff not really knowing how to articulate them. Did our in-branch experience

do is effectively deliver its

leave us feeling like the staff

cared and were capable of tailoring individual assistance? Possibly.

Was our communication interaction in any way specific to the brand promise? It didn't

of us already believe their advertising. Now all the bank needs to promise to its customers in-store. Karl Treacher is managing partner

The verdict The advertising-based expectation for St George to do some-

operational requirements with little to no consideration of my needs or expectations based on

maybe a little daring has been disappointing.

thing different, something

of

ADComm Worldgroup and founder ol Brand Behaviour. Jason Pollard is director ol retail strategy for FutureBrand and consults to Brand Behaviour Send suggestions or questions

appear so.

entirely around St George's

This branch has been designed

ated values. St George have a real opportunity to advance their position in

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By George its a Bank | B&T Brand Promise & Delivery Audit 2004