31 January 2008

Commbank is determined to be different..well, just the agency.

The new Commonwealth Bank brand positioning by US agency Goodby Silverstein reflects a an out-of-touch management using poorly briefed and conceived programs to demonstrate successful internal reinvention.

While the company has been undergoing an internal five year transformation program, designed to re-engineer almost every aspect of how the bank works, the same cannot be said for the branding.

Firstly, the new Determined to be Different campaign launched this moth, is not even a brand positioning. It’s entirely disingenuous for the Bank to claim it as the next step from the Which? Bank campaign as this a tagline as an addendum to the transformation project, rather than brand being a central plank of it.

Secondly, Determined to be Different campaign is just too simply such an abstract claim to be believable. It's self centred, it's an unfunny parody, there’s no customer centredness and while some attempts at substantiation are carried via the website, these are the same empty statements.

So it’s one of the problems I constantly see with advertising led brand programs is this huge gap that exists between the change programs and an organisation's inability to run successful and parallel strategic brand programs.

And organisations who continue to do this runs the risk of getting caught in the gap, and I fear that’s what’s going to happen when customers start fronting up to the Commonwealth Bank, really daring them and wanting them to be different.


ZGambit said...

Hey Stephen,

You are exactly right about what you have just mentioned about the campaign not even being a brand positioning program.

Now that we are past this point of being hypocritical, what thoughts would go through your mind to save and if not bring back consumer trust and interest in the brand?

I thought this question would be better discussed as I have plenty hypocrites not enough strategist solution's


Without knowing the relative success of the current campaign (what metrics are in place?), I'd probably be thinking that there needs to be some definitive actions that go beyond advertising and placement. One example I'm thinking of is something like Not Good Enough, which I know some businesses used to monitor). Another might be to do a non-partisan bank social media/blog site, which you could use to track overall sentiment towards banks. Some years ago the bank was actually talking about merging its activities with a coffee brand, I've only seen this is in one brand, Circular Quay. I think there is something in this idea but it doesn't seem to have been followed through. By actually engaging customers and the community in these types of activities Commbank might actually prove that it is different. Which is the point I made at the end of the blog. These can act as proof points and validate the positioning.