Embrace change, take risks, and disrupt yourself

Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.

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How to Think Like a Brand and Not a Bank

As consumers get exposed to new financial brands every day, it has never been more important to think like a brand and not a bank. Investing in creating a strong brand allows a banking organization to get and keep people’s attention – directly impacting the bottom line.

With the right branding, you have the chance to impact how consumers perceive your business and how your employees represent your business. This creates loyalty by building trust.

My guests on the Banking Transformed podcast are Allison Netzer and Liz High, the authors of the book, ‘Think Like a Brand, Not a Bank’. Allison and Liz share how good branding can appeal to people’s emotions, allowing a bank or credit union to outperform the competition.

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Jim Marous:
Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, founder and CEO of the Digital Banking Report, and co-publisher of the Financial Brand. As consumers are exposed to new financial brands every day, it has never been more important to think about and deliver a brand strategy that resonates with consumers and your employees. With the right branding, you have the chance to impact consumers how they perceive your business and how your employees actually represent your business. This creates loyalty and builds trust. My guests on today's podcast are Allison Netzer and Liz High, the authors of the book Think Like a Brand, not Like a Bank. Allison and Liz share how good branding can appeal to people's emotions, allowing a bank or credit union to outperform the competition.

Jim Marous:
So welcome to the show, ladies. The concept of branding has evolved enormously over the years, no longer being relegated to simply a logo, color, visual identity, packaging, or even products. It's really evolved into something much bigger and much more important, and it's being done well by many companies, but not well by all companies. Done well, branding can change how people perceive your brand, generate new customers, actually improves employee satisfaction and increase brand value. So Allison and Liz, before we start, can you provide our audience a little background around who you are and what you do in your daily life besides write books?

Allison Netzer:
Sure. So happy to start and thank you so much for having us, Jim. We're both big fans of this show. So I'm Allison Netzer. I've been a marketer and brand person for going on 20 years now. So I started when I was a very small child and have a lot of passion around building momentum, building buzz around brands and building excitement, and really been fortunate to work with brands in the sports world, to financial services and beyond, and Liz and I have had a almost six year collaboration. It didn't take us that long to write the book, but we've been working together and been friends for about that long. So we were excited we got the opportunity to write a book together.

Liz High:
Same thing. I obviously started work as a much younger child than Allison, so I've been in the marketing and branding industry for close to 30 years now. Similar to Allison, a very diverse background, working with major brands. My passion is where the emotion and intuition of marketing meets data. And that's how I found myself in the technology world, developing a real passion for banking and for FinTechs, and really the book was an expression of all the things that both of us have learned across our careers and particularly the real work that we've been doing together with banks and credit unions over the last five or six years.

Jim Marous:
So I was lucky enough to get a pre-released version of your book, Think Like a Brand, Not a Bank: Five Practical Strategies to Unlock Innovation, Connect with Customers and Grow. So what motivated you? I mean, I know you're both in the branding area, and in the banking area, obviously, but what motivated you to write your first book on this topic? Allison?

Allison Netzer:
Great question. Well, I'm not a formally trained marketer, which may or may not be surprising to you, Jim. So my personal goal was to try to collaborate on a book that I wish I had when I was starting and Liz and I just had so many stories, so many experiences. We've been talking about this concept for really the entire time we've worked together. So it was about bringing it together and hopefully being helpful as much as we can.

Liz High:
Just really echoing what Allison says, these are things that we talk about every day, and what we were discovering is that banks and credit unions had really the same kind of questions. A lot of them are going through the same kind of challenges, and we just felt that this was a way to give everybody an opportunity to just think a little bit differently and to make some even small and easier changes to the way that they think day to day. So we're not revolutionizing the world of marketing. We're really bringing things that have been core tenets of how brands get built and making sure that they apply especially to banks and especially to credit unions. So it's like wisdom, but made super relevant for people's day jobs.

Jim Marous:
Allison, the book starts in a really good spot because it pushes a point that there's a financial relevance to building a strong brand. You give a lot of examples. A lot of research has been done in the marketplace on why building a strong brand is more important than ever. But why is it more important than ever? What are some of the financial ramifications of a good versus a not so good brand?

Allison Netzer:
Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, we do try to make the business case for brands. One of the points in the book is brand is not soft and fluffy. It's not colors, it's not logos. Because to sell brand first thinking within your institution, you have to know your audience. You have to position and sell it internally before it goes externally. So to do that, when you think about the constituents within a bank, you have to make the financial case. Things like brands that are emotionally engaging in financial services have a 30% higher lifetime value than bank brands where they don't have an emotional connection. 30%. So you can do that math. You have to think about compliance. You have to think about all of the different groups. So we did try to provide data so that you can be that change agent within the bank or credit union or FinTech to really get to that brand first thinking.

Allison Netzer:
So there's ramifications of not doing it. And we all, I think, have our favorite examples in our head, which I will not name here, but I actually think there's a larger opportunity than ramification. And that opportunity is, of course, profitability. That opportunity is getting into new and different niche markets. So if you think about the brands and love, banks have that same opportunity, they absolutely do, if they adopt that brand first thinking. There's really not a huge difference. There's highly regulated industries, highly complex industries that people love, and I think that could happen, I know it could happen with banking.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting, Liz, I was in banking, in a bank, started my career in banking probably before either one of you were even born. And the reality was back then advertising and branding was kind of a big thing. A lot of the people that were in marketing were actually advertisers in the past and a lot of that Mad Men mentality, and yet in the recent past, and not so recent past, many financial institutions seem to have walked away from branding, maybe because they thought it was warm and fuzzy versus tactical and direct. Has the focus on data, analytics, and digital transformation maybe distracted financial institutions from really keeping a focus on the overall brand as well?

Liz High:
I think that's a really interesting point. And I'm glad you asked me that, and not Allison, again, one of the reasons that Allison and I work so well together and the book came together is that we both personify what we feel banks and credit unions require, which is that innate, emotional, intuitive understanding of market customers and outcomes together with data. And I think that the two have to come hand in hand for a brand to be successful. And I think one of the challenges that banks have today is they haven't gone far enough in the digital transformation. There's been a lot of focus about taking what people thought was their brand and putting it online. So the same experience, the same products, but now brought through a different channel.

Liz High:
That shows a lack of maturity around how data can be used to generate amazing experiences, which brands do really, really well. And I think for me, getting closer to thinking about predictive analytics, getting closer to thinking about delivering real time experiences through that digital transformation is when the brand will truly come to life. Because personalization has to be much more than remembering your name or having a picture that means something to you on your homepage. It needs to be about being hyper relevant when people are on a customer journey with you. And to me, that's brand and technology together. You can't really have one without the other in today's market.

Jim Marous:
Liz, sticking with you, the first chapter of your book talks about mindset and how banking is traditionally focused on products as opposed to customers, despite what the financial institutions talk about. The reality is they still financially look at products, services, things of that nature. How can an organization combine the tangibility of products with the emotion of effective branding?

Liz High:
So for me, and again, I know Allison, you feel really strongly about this too, is that the the future of effective financial services is going to be where the product and the mission intersects. So we talk in the book a lot about product isn't credit card, product isn't savings account, product is the mission that your institution is on. And if you think about some of the brands that we talk about in the book that both of us love, that everybody loves Umpqua because forever they have been innovating, creating experiences that are all about bringing their customer into an experience, not into a bank. Both Allison and I really admire Sally Crochet and her vision for Elvis. Just think about another example in the book is future family. So the products alone, but the outcome is one of the most emotional things in the world, which is creating a family. That's really the future of product, and that's how you bring a brand and a traditional product together, but the outcome of both is greater than the sum of the parts.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting, Allison, your book, one thing I really loved... I loved a lot of things about your book, but one of the things that really stood out is you keep on giving examples. Liz just mentioned Umpqua and other examples in the financial space, but your book really focused on those organizations that have taken the mindsets and actually integrated data with the emotion and presented the brand in such a way that the product really became the brand or the brand really became the product. I mean, I always look at Nike and I'm amazed by how I look at shoes, not just as a fashion statement, but it's functionally got to work. My On Clouds are the same way. I wear them because I like them. I wear them because I make a statement about my intention to have a good quality towards... Or good quality towards my personal transformation goal on round fitness. But your examples are throughout the book. Can you share a few of your favorite examples, either in the financial or non-financial space?

Allison Netzer:
Sure. And I thank you for picking up on that because one of the things that's important to Liz and I is it's so easy to sit up high and throw rocks down to bankers, like, "Why haven't you done this? Why are you so slow?" And we spent really two days discussing the tone of the book. So our tone is really meant to be how helpful and hopeful, because that's how we feel. So the examples we tried to bring were one so that it wasn't just Liz and I in our infinite wisdom preaching preaching to you the reader. So hopefully that came through. There's tons of favorites in there. One that is near and dear to my heart, probably because of the size of the institution and the people around it, is actually Locality Bank, which I know you're familiar with, which is a neobank in South Florida.

Allison Netzer:
And the three things I like about them is one Corey, Keith, all the team there, they've declared even before reading the book that their mission is their product. And their mission is to serve South Florida businesses because banks have left that area. That's their product. Their product is their mission. So they started with that mindset. The second thing I love is they just want to be locality. They're not trying to be the greatest small business bank ever or take on X, Y, Z competitor. They know their market, they know the people in their market, and they're just going to serve that market. They're not looking to grow exponentially and break records. And I think that's an amazing, amazing discipline.

Allison Netzer:
And the third thing I love is just more personal, which is I love it when people use swag to create buzz and they have done so with their Locality hat. It's perfect for them because it was completely random, it's just guys that love baseball hats, and it just turned into a thing. So I feel like they've embraced all of the principles in the book, whether or not they've known it. So that's a great example. Of course Liz mentioned Umpqua and a couple others that I think are perennial stories in our industry.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting you mentioned Locality Bank, because for those of my listeners that aren't familiar, it's a brand new bank, built from scratch. And from the very beginning, you mentioned, Allison, the brand was the product. Everything they're doing, they're focusing... I mean they have a podcast, they have ads, everything else, but it's all about the local businesses. It's not about their products. The products they're building are an outshoot from what the brand is. A great example, and interestingly, the people involved are those people that really believed in this before they started the bank. So Allison, when we look at the recent past, the pandemic has obviously disrupted everything, but it's also changed the way that branding is done and the importance of branding. What do you see as the impact that the pandemic had on the importance of branding and financial services that it relates to trust, value, competition, and growth?

Allison Netzer:
Well trust is definitely a piece that we talk about. We provide a good amount of data in the book on how trust has changed. You would think that trust in financial institutions would increase during the height of the pandemic, and it did, but then unfortunately it went down precipitously in financial services when other industries went up. So little bit of a missed opportunity there, nothing irreparable. But I think the pandemic or just the focus on digital has given banks, credit unions opportunity, I think really for two things. One is you can't lean on the, "I know my customer or member because I overheard this conversation in a branch." Which is a great conversation, but is not data, is not a trend. It's a nice interaction with the customer. Does not mean you need to make business decisions on that.

Allison Netzer:
So as strange as it is for me to say, data is a lot more important in branding now than it ever has been, and getting into that predictive piece. I think the second thing is you can make more mistakes. If you come up with some amazing brand, you don't have to put it in all 41 branches and everyone has to have the right thing on their shirt and all the things and then it's a failure and then you got to shut all of that down. There's some element of play, some element of experimentation that you can do now that I think is extremely exciting. So you put that data, which is maybe not as fun, Liz, and then the fun stuff, and you put it together, and then you've got some really interesting growth opportunities to try. So I think the stakes are actually higher in some regard and lower in others, and there's that... Because we really try to talk about not thinking in a binary way. There's so much space in the middle. I think it actually opens up the aperture for really any institution.

Jim Marous:
Interesting, Liz, and it relates to what Allison just said. You make a point in the book that branding is not just a marketing exercise, which was really interesting. I had read the whole section twice because I'm going, "Okay, so it's beyond that. It's bigger than marketing. Because I equate marketing and branding as one and the same with some expansion. Can you explain a little bit about what you bring up in the book about marketing not being just a marketing exercise? On branding not being just a marketing exercise?

Liz High:
Well, I think when you put anything that's really a significant part of your strategy into a single team, you're reducing the different mindsets that are going to come to solve that problem. Branding to me is culture. Yes, a little bit of it is marketing, but it's employee satisfaction. It's really looking at your mission. And no one team, or in many banks, an individual, can own that. And it has to start top down and bottom up because that's where you get the entire organization believing in the mission, serving to fulfill that mission, and therefore living and being a brand. And if it's about living and being, it can't be a marketing exercise.

Jim Marous:
That's a great point and I'm thinking about a couple examples. I look at Huntington Bank. I've been just amazed how they stayed on brand and what they believe, and they may not be happy with my perception of, but Huntington Bank is in Ohio where I'm located and everything they do is that green that they have. But more than that, I really see them as the Southwest of financial services. They really seem to be out for the customer. They do a lot of things on the basic really well. They try to avoid the knicks and knacks that that financial institutes and teams seem to do when you're getting feed here and there.

Jim Marous:
Delta's another one, Delta, it amazes me, and they they've all had challenges recently, but it amazes me how they stay on brand and their employees live it. I mean, you can see it as soon as you get to the counter, it feels different. You can see it when you get on the plane, it feels different. And they do a really good job in presenting who they want to be and who they aspire to be as well as who they are today.

Jim Marous:
How do organizations, finance institutions, Liz, actually build that culture? How do they take it beyond colors and logos to be in the emotional aspect? Do you train people? Do you get everybody involved? Does it become a top down forced learning? And because really it's about the target marketplace you serve, it's about the products you develop, it's about the innovation you do, as you mentioned. How do you do that? And I know it's not easy to say in a nutshell, but what are the key elements of that?

Liz High:
So I think you touched on one thing, which is to get people involved. You cannot build a brand from the top down. You're building an identity at that point. You're back in color and logo land. For me, a brand starts with the audience that you serve, and you need to be building a brand around delivering something that matters to people. And you need to identify the kind of people that matter to you as an institution. And I think one of the trends that certainly Allison and I are behind is this concept of creating financial institutions that deal with a niche market that really gets underneath what people need and want. And once you understand that you build your brand around that, you take your people with, you tell your story in that way, and most importantly, you behave and develop product services and solutions that are focused on meeting that need in the market. That's not top down. That's the broadest of bottom up, but that's certainly our philosophy on how to build effective brands.

Allison Netzer:
If I could jump in there, it's because you hit on aspiration. So logo land is expressing your brand as it is today, and brand is what you aspire to be. So if you do some of the steps, because we get asked a lot, like, "Okay, I love that. I love that idea. What are the step by steps? How do I do it? What's my checklist." And I have complete respect for that, for checklist type thinking. If you do the work that Liz just described, really think about the audience and remember that your audience are also the people that work for you, if you set that, the other pieces aren't hard. I know this sounds like BS, but think about the amount of natural momentum and FOMO that gets created around brands in our space that just come out of nowhere, and people are like, "What the heck?"

Allison Netzer:
And you dig in and you realize you spent like $5 on marketing and you're like, "We can't possibly do that," but you can. There was not a step by step checklist that you missed. What you missed was this part over here that is messy and can't fit in a document, but can be done around the mindset, around the aspiration because then everyone naturally moves towards a great goal. They will absolutely naturally move towards it. You just then have to corral it. You don't have to do the training, all the things you talked about. No, they will naturally move towards it if it's really set and articulated in a way that is inspiring and aspiring. I know this sounds a little woo woo. But I've seen it over the past 20 years. I've lived it, I'm living it, and it can absolutely happen. So the step by step part, the hard part is over here, the execution part, it takes care of itself in most cases.

Jim Marous:
Well Allison, sticking on that, your book breaks down branding into five major principles of branding or strategy for branding. Can you give a Cliff's Notes version of these principles, but more importantly, which of the five principles do you think financial institutions right now need to focus on more than ever, either because it's going to have the biggest upside or because the gap is the biggest between what needs to be done and what is currently being done?

Allison Netzer:
Okay, so I thought you were going to ask me to rattle off all five principles in order of my favorite. So yeah, Cliff's Notes version of the five is you mentioned earlier, it starts with mindset, mindset matters. And we take folks through a process, so at the end you know when you're there. Which is another question we get, like, "How do I know when I'm thinking like a brand? What does that look like?" So there's things about avoiding binary thinking, the importance of data, all of these principles. But my favorite one, and the one that I encourage people to do, which is probably not surprising to you, Jim, is sometimes do the counterintuitive thing. Sometimes just do the counterintuitive thing. Because the privilege of working in this industry is that so many people have been doing this for so long, and it's easy to see that as a negative, but I think it can be a huge positive because you want to talk about the power of doing a counterintuitive thing.

Allison Netzer:
When someone walks into the room and they've been the department head for 25 years and they look the part and all the things, and they're like, "You know what, we're going to do the opposite of that idea. We're just going to actually try to see if it works in reverse, because to me, if it works this way and that way you've got a winner." So there's so much power in that, that makes people sit up and take notice, going back to our aspiration. I think Iroquois Federal Bank is a great example of doing the counterintuitive thing and coming out with the bank for newlyweds, from a very traditional institution to a very not traditional take.

Allison Netzer:
Chip did the counterintuitive thing, literally in a room. So Liz's favorite story is Chip comes in with this stack of wedding magazines and was like, "We've got to do this," and everyone took notice. So doing the counterintuitive thing also helps with that step by step that people want on how do we know we're there? How do we know what steps to follow? So that's my favorite principle, but I'd be interested to hear Liz's, if she has one.

Jim Marous:
Yeah, go ahead, Liz.

Liz High:
So maybe it's because I'm Scottish and a little bit cheap, but one of the principles is this idea of cue the remix. So as someone who's worked in innovation for a long time, there's a lot of fear around this idea that to innovate, you have to start with this blank piece of paper. You need a million dollars and you need McKinsey. The purpose of the cue the remix is to say let's look at your institution. Let's look at what's going really well, maybe in one silo of it. And let's think about how we can take the thing you do brilliantly and make it applicable somewhere else in a different way for a different audience. So really for me, that whole thing about starting small can actually achieve some really, really new things, and that's often a nice way to get into the idea of thinking like a brand. Let's not change everything, but let's recognize what we're really great at. And then let's make that do more and better and different.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting because both of your examples. Allison, it's interesting because you talk about the whole concept of change and doing things differently and counterintuitively. And Liz, you talk about cueing the remix and doing iterative changes. Both those elements are something that banks aren't really comfortable with. Banks just by their own nature are not comfortable with change. They don't want to take risk and disruption of themselves or their brands. It's something that's not intuitively strong for them. So both doing something counterintuitive and doing it iterative, rather than that big bang, are both different than most financial institutions do in a normal daily business. So before we dig deeper into these principles, let's take a short break and recognize the sponsors of the podcast.

Jim Marous:
So welcome to Banking Transformed. So today I'm joined by Allison Netzer and Liz High, authors of the book Think Like a Brand, Not a Bank. By its own title, it's a pick up your book and you want to say, "Okay, what is this book about?" It's extraordinarily enjoyable to read and very informative. We've been discussing the importance of building of strong brand in financial services, and why so many institutions are still falling short. So when we went to the break, Allison was sharing the five strategies financial institutions must use to unlock innovation, connect with customers, and grow. Liz, there are dozens of examples of misconceptions of branding in your book. What do most financial institutions get wrong with branding, and can you provide an example of an institution that's doing it right?

Liz High:
So I think we've talked about it a bit already, but there's still a perception that brand equals visual identity. It's your logo, it's your color palette, it's your website. And I've been out talking about the book and this idea of why mindset matters at a couple of conferences. And one of the things I always do is right at the beginning I say, "Think of a brand that you love." And first of all, nobody thinks about any financial services, even though they're quite often financial service marketers themselves. And then when you ask people, "What is it about that brand," none of them talk about how it looks, no one talks about their website. They talk about what they get from it. They talk about how it makes them feel. So for me, the thing that banks have lost sight of somewhat, not all banks, but some, is that you have to go into behavior. You have to go into culture to really think about what your brand is and what it means.

Liz High:
I mean, one of the brands that I really love is USAA. Super clear on their audience. They have a mission. They understand their audience because their employees are of that audience. Everything they do is mission driven. And once that's done, they've also got some of the best products on the market. Some of the best rates. They've got all of the foundation there, but they don't lead with that. They lead with a deep knowledge of the military personnel and their families that they serve. And every decision they make, right down to how a customer service agent is allowed to solve a problem on the phone... They're empowered to help that individual because they understand that the experience of that individual is not the same as any other customer might be. And throughout the organization everyone's around that. And the other one that I follow a lot is Studio out of Nashville, the bank for creators. I just love what they're doing and how that creativity of their mission comes into everything, from the murals that they have painted on their walls to the publicity that they put out in the market.

Jim Marous:
To both of you, a major theme in banking right now is building better banking experiences by using data analytics to build personalization. And Liz, you just referenced it a little bit. How should branding integrate with data and analytics and how we're trying to build better engagement? How do these fit together? Just both you.

Allison Netzer:
Yeah, well I think they fit extremely well. And I think that lesson one is they're not opposing forces. And this is going to Liz's answer earlier that the branding is everyone. It's not marketing work. So it's not the marketers over here and then the business analysts over here and never shall the two meet. So data and branding together is really where the magic happens. And then that goes back to what we talked about with reflecting the brand as it is today, which is marketing, and then the aspiration, which is branding. So this middle part is really informed by data. Not data on what they did, but the predictive data and analytics on where they want to go. Not all small businesses want to stay small. Not all teachers are going to be teachers forever or want to be seen as a teacher, and that's it.

Allison Netzer:
So the past, the reporting is analogous to the marketing. It's reflecting what is. The analytics and the data should help you see what can be, what's forward, what people, where they want to go. And that's a big part of the research that Liz and I do on a day to day basis is here's your audience? Great. They look and feel like this. Interesting. But where do they want to go? What are their financial aspirations? What are their life aspirations? And how can we meet that with the brand? That's where they really work well together.

Jim Marous:
And Liz, does this also get into the measurement data analytics also measurement. Is this where you also use data analytics to measure how well you're doing, because actually if the marketplace doesn't see your brand the same way you're trying to present it, you've missed the mark, haven't you?

Liz High:
Yeah, no, completely. I think measurement is critical. But one thing that I would say is that not all the components of brand are measurable. So once you get very obsessed about performance metrics, you slip back into that marketing mindset rather than a branding mindset, because it all becomes about campaign effectiveness, what you do, and there's a really important part, which is that emotional impact, which will have an impact on your bottom line. So you can watch your traditional metrics improve, but you can't always measure what are people getting? That's where qualitative data and information comes into the process as well. And I bet you never thought you'd hear me say that actually, Allison.

Allison Netzer:
No, I'm I'm leaning in. I want to hear more. Do tell.

Liz High:
Is that that sense of wellbeing, that sense of love that comes around a brand is as important as measuring the outcomes on your bottom line, on the ROI. And a great brand has a sense of that emotional halo that sits around them, which isn't measurable, but it can be felt.

Jim Marous:
Boy, that's that's good stuff. It was heavy, but [inaudible 00:36:13].

Allison Netzer:
Pretty deep, but that was-

Jim Marous:
But the reality is, again, especially in the post pandemic world, consumers want that warm feeling that says, "I'm safe," no matter what brand they're talking about. They don't want to have to return things. They don't want to be disappointed. They've set aspirations higher. And that's one place where a brand really comes in. A brand can give you that feeling of trust, can give you that feeling of assuredness that you're on the same page as I am, and my selection of finance institutions may be based on how well you convey that in the marketplace, not just with the advertising you do, but in social media, what your employees do. I get back to Delta and the little things they do. The mint on their check-in counter is a little, little, little thing, but it really says a lot about what they're trying to do. It says, "We just want to do little things that are going to surprise you."

Jim Marous:
Their employees are... Almost every example I've ever had are extraordinarily helpful. That's hard to build, but it's part of the brand. Allison, when we start talking about banking and branding, we can go on forever. I mean, this podcast could go on for a few hours, but we're getting to the end here. Where should a bank or credit union start? I mean, at the end of the day, your book is a wealth of information. It's like a textbook that you want to read, and as you guys both said, you get inspired by it, you get enthusiastic about it, but at the end, you're going, "Okay, I want to do something. What do I do now?" So where should a bank or credit union start, and can a bank or credit union do it themselves, or do you really suggest partnering with an organization that can really assist them in their branding process?

Allison Netzer:
So I think where is as important as the when, because your win can get way over here if you focus too much on where to start. So my answer when I get asked that question is if you've read the book, start where you feel the most passion. It's not meant to be in order, it's not a step by step. You know your institution best. If you're like, "I think I can get people on board with the counterintuitive thing," or whatever it is, start at the point of least resistance, because starting now is more important than where you start. It's when you start. And you need to start now. The old adage about best time to plant a tree 20 years ago or today. So that's, that's my ask, and that's a very personal decision for the readers because you know your culture best.

Allison Netzer:
And then depending on what you pick, there are lots of resources out there with outside groups that can bring perspective, but I would only do that because there's a difference between collaborating and outsourcing it. Because if you love one of these things and you want to do it, you want to hold it and own it and you can get other people to support that, but don't be like, "Oh, we should really do this. Let's call X, Y, Z, and have them do it for us." Wrong answer. Because you don't have that internal conviction around it yet. You want to be obsessed by it and then try to bring as many people around to get to that faster as opposed to doing it for you. Because if you want them to do it for you, that's a great marketing exercise, but that is not what we're talking about in the book. So start at the point of least resistance, take it as far as you can so that you can just get obsessed with it, and then get people to help you get there faster. But you've got to decide that piece.

Allison Netzer:
Because I think the last thing is starting to get super passionate about this is, bankers listening, you are not as far off the mark as you think you are. You are harder on yourselves, you hold yourselves to a higher standard than anyone else possibly can. You're in a better spot than you think you are, I promise you. So start from a place of confidence and move forward as opposed to, "We're screwing up. We're backwards. We're too traditional." Maybe, but you're also a lot of other things. So like Liz mentioned earlier, this is about bringing those things to the fore, not taking the 125 years of bank history, putting in a trash can, having some weird looking logo and making up a word. That's not what we're prescribing.

Jim Marous:
Finally, Liz, when anybody writes a book, at some point or many points during the writing process and researching and developing it, there's an aha moment, something that completely surprised you from where you thought it was going to go or where you were going to think, and you get diverted, you get surprised by something either good or bad in the process. What was your aha moment?

Liz High:
I think for me it was... Actually it's the last of the five principles. And we talked about this idea of getting away from thinking about brand in the conceptual way and actually really getting down to thinking about what it means in terms of experiences, and accepting the fact that because as a bank or as a marketer, you have this idea of what your brand should be in the marketplace. Sometimes you have to really take people on that journey with you. Sometimes you have to coach people and take people with you for your brand to really live. And I think I'd really started out thinking, "Yeah, this is going to all be about how to just create these amazing brands that everyone's going to love." But maybe not. Maybe you actually need to invest some time in making sure that your vision and your story is really resonating and people know how to consume it and people know what your intent is. So for me that was the bring people with you aha.

Jim Marous:
That's a great point, because sometimes I think they call it navel gazing, you can miss the obvious and you can also... Just because you aspire to be X, you may be way far off the mark in the marketplace or even among your employees. So again, some theme that has gone throughout this whole podcast is this is not a solo journey, this is not a marketing journey. This is something where you need to listen as well as talk because you need to find out what the current benchmark is and if you can actually get to where you are. And the end it really gets down to how it makes people feel internally and externally.

Jim Marous:
I want to thank both of you for being on the show today and congratulate you on your significant accomplishment of writing a book. As I mentioned to you before the podcast started, it's something that's been on my to-do list for more than a decade. I'm probably just as close as I was a decade ago, but it's good to have people like yourselves writing about this topic because it is very important in the banking industry, it's very important in every industry, and it's sometimes ignored in the daily work that we have that's getting so tactical and there's, again, so much data and analytics out there, we sometimes miss the big picture of where that all needs to apply. So finally, how do listeners get your book?

Allison Netzer:
Yes, very easily. We have a website, thinklikeabrandbook.com, so we've got the link to all the online stores where you can pick up a copy, Amazon, et cetera. So there's lots of options here.

Jim Marous:
Great. Thank you both for being on the show and I guarantee you we'll have a revisit.

Allison Netzer:
I would love that.

Liz High:
Yeah, perfect.

Jim Marous:
Thanks for listening to Banking Transform, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoy today's show, please take some time to give our show a five star rating on your favorite podcast app. Also be sure to read my recent articles on the Financial Brand, and check out the research we're doing for the Digital Bank Report. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Haslage, audio engineer, Sean Raoul Hoffman, and video producer Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, remember, your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.

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