c HSBC CMO explains how to brand a bank
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How do you create a global marketing strategy?

Joel Watson

HSBC's CMO Chris Clark sits down with Hot Topics to explain how HSBC create a unified marketing strategy globally.

How do you create a unified global marketing strategy?

Businesses around the world, big and small, giant and micro, have all got one thing in common, or at least they should: they’re all trying to build great brands for themselves.

Be it Apple’s clean designs or Google’s simplicity and ubiquitousness, great companies have great brands that leads to them being embraced the world over.

But while tech is in vogue and people take to new platforms willingly, finding a way to brand a bank has is a more difficult proposition.

Being legacy institutions, often many hundreds of years old, coupled with the financial crisis that has yet to fade from memory, finding a way to brand a bank with a global view, isn’t easy.

Hot Topics sits down with Chris Clark, CMO of HSBC, to discuss how the bank is trying to build it’s global image in the decade following the financial crash.

“What we’ve always tried to do,” says Clark: “Is make sure that we have a brand that has consistency.”

Instead of producing a disjointed message to customers across many different countries and continents, Clark says that HSBC preferred a more consistent message in their brand building.

But what kind of message does HSBC want to produce consistently?

Clark explains: “What we’ve always tried to do with those [brand strategies] is route them in to the reality of human beings … connecting customers to opportunity, helping people realize their hopes, dreams and ambitions.”

“We are a facilitator at the end of the day, we have a purpose, that’s why we exist.”

It’s not to say that HSBC don’t tailor their messages to different demographics and populations, but the underlying message that people get from the bank is designed to be consistent across the board.

The brand message for HSBC is designed to inspire the belief that the bank are “Supporting human ambition.”

“That’s what we’re all about; we don’t necessarily use those words, it’s not a strap-line, but it is about saying that all of us have hopes and dreams, big plans, we have kids we have families, we have friends.

“The banks job is to play a supporting role in how you achieve your human ambitions, not just your next career move.

“We’re not trying to hijack some weird emotional territory, what we’re trying to do is say that our job is to be a facilitator in that.”

Finding a way to brand a bank is more important than ever in an age where fintech companies are growing all the time taking a slice of the financial market that used to exclusively belong to the banks.

The reason many fintech platforms are so popular is because they rank highly for customer service and they have a great user experience – but more than that, their image has yet to be tainted by the murky lens through which many of the legacy banks are viewed.

Time will tell if building a more personal brand will lead to banks re-establishing some of the market share they conceded to digital competitors that offer to do things, faster, cheaper and friendlier.

To hear more about how Chris Clark has helped to brand a bank, watch the video above.