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The first Metro Bank marketing brochure [UPDATE]

I've talked a lot about Metro Bank already, and will probably talk a lot more about them as they are the first brand new spanking retail bank to launch in Britain since Charles Dickens popped his clogs.

Well, almost.

Actually, it's quite strange in that, like buses, you don't see a new bank launch and then a truckload of them turn up what with Project New Bank and JC Flowers joining the Virgin, Tesco, Post Office, Government and more in opening bank stores and operations.

But Metro Bank is one of my favourites as I've been tracking their progress pretty much from Day One.  In fact, two years ago I posted a blog about the co-founder of Metro Bank, Vernon Hill, who created the massive Commerce Bank success in the USA.  A few words from that blog entry are worth repeating here, as you'll see the Commerce Bank approach reflected in Metro Bank:

Commerce
Bank's success is based upon their philosophy that
they are retailers and not bankers, and features some unusual ideas,
such as:


  • Instant creation of ATM cards on the spot at the time of account
    opening
  • Free "Penny Arcade" coin counting machines for both customers and
    non-customers

  • No-Fee Visa Gift Cards for customers
  • Lollipops and dog biscuits in the lobby and drive-thru
  • Foreign ATM fee reimbursement
  • "No Stupid Fees, No Stupid Hours"

So I get an invite to the official opening of Metro Bank – their first day of opening will be July 29th – and am impressed by their marketing brochure.  It's slightly different to a typical bank brochure.  Have a look (doubleclick images to see large pictures):

 

Metro Bank p1


Metro Bank p2


Metro Bank p3 

Metro Bank p4 

Metro Bank p5 

Metro Bank p6 

Love the dog!

UPDATE: 21st July 2010

Fascinating debate below in commentary about Metro Bank's design and branding.  I'll wade in shortly but, in the meantime, just got the BBA's Summer Magazine with an article from Metro Bank CEO Craig Donaldson (ex-RBS) on their strategy.  Interesting:

NEW BANKING FOR BRITAIN

Craig Donaldson explains how Metro Bank, the first new high street bank for over 100 years, is going to revolutionise banking in the UK, starting in London in July.

The UK, like many parts of the world, is used to revolutions. However, unlike many other countries, ours tend to be more pragmatic than idealistic!

The eighteenth century saw the agricultural revolution, which transformed the process of food production in the UK. It led to a massive increase in agricultural productivity and net output. This, in turn, supported unprecedented population growth and freed up a significant percentage of the workforce. This helped drive the industrial revolution, which marked a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life was eventually influenced in some way.

Metro Bank is planning to start a revolution: we want to revolutionise banking in the UK and here I’d like to explain why. We plan on delivering a service that exceeds expectations and, in order to achieve this, we have been looking closely at one key question: What do customers want?

Customers have told us they want branch banking, they want telephone banking and they want internet banking. They also want to choose where, when and how they use all of these different channels. Having the ability to make the decision about how they bank is important to them.

So what’s the big idea?

We believe (and there’s a lot of research to support my view) that customers simply want a better experience from their bank, the kind they typically get from a great retailer, and that’s what we intend to give them.

We think like a retailer. Great retailers put their customer at the heart of everything they do, they are passionate about giving the customer a great experience and that’s what we’re going to do.

Here are a few examples:

Open when people want to bank

People’s lives have changed, great retailers have moved with them and banking should reflect this, so every Metro Bank location will be open seven days a week. We should be there when people want to bank, on their way to work, on their way home and at weekends, so we will be open 8am till 8pm.

Passionate people giving great service

People want to deal with people who want to be there. We have interviewed over 5000 people for 60 jobs so that we can get people with a ‘can do’ attitude, people who want to serve people and will be smiling while doing it. Over the last few years, a lot of automation has been introduced to high street banks. Whilst we will have all of the automation you would expect (and more) we also have more staff to meet customer needs in stores, and real people answering the phones.

Make banking more fun

Great retailers are lively and interesting. Our stores (remember, we’re a retailer) are large and airy. We don’t have glass security screens but we do have free coin counting machines, safety deposit boxes, treats for your children and your pets. We’ve even introduced toilets for customers!

And there are hundreds of other details, but – hopefully – this illustrates how we are building a bank for the convenience of our customers not for the convenience of the bank.

We believe if people come to you for a great experience then they will be prepared to give you more of their deposits, for a longer time. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Metro Bank is co-founded by Vernon Hill, who was the founder of Commerce Bank, which grew from a one branch bank, to the eighteenth largest bank in America with the same model of giving customers a great experience.

The revolution begins at the end of July when we will be offering customers a great retail experience and enabling them to ‘love your bank at last’.

Craig Donaldson, Chief Executive, Metro Bank

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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Financial services of the future will be open sourced and real-time

I recently  presented in Miami and BBVA were kind enough to summarise what I said …

  • This brochure is ugly and overloaded with way too much copy.
    I like the concept and strategy behind Metro Bank, but its overall brand image leaves much to be desired.

  • Jeffrey – oh come on! There is something MUCH bigger at play here than brochure design! It could be printed on recycled newspaper and it would still be significant, welcome and promising. WAY too much of banking in the UK has been all about superslick Marketing hogwash, all hiding awful service, rip off products and corporate cultures that dribble greed. I wish Metro Bank all the success in the world – and desperately hope the other newcomers spend more time getting the proposition right and putting the consumer first for the first time, rather than producing ‘the perfect brochure’!
    Martin Campbell

  • I sit firmly in the Jeffrey camp on this one. I agree that Metro have an opportunity to change the approach to banking , but have missed it with this communications approach. For a bank that wants and needs to have broad appeal, my thought is that this reaches a very narrow demographic.
    Tudor

  • My take on Metrobank: customer-centric proposition but a cheesy brochure, they’ll get it right – and the next time I’m p***ed off with my bank…

  • I’m loving it. And if you stop to remember that the *brochure* is actually meant to be read in the hand, not on the screen, then it probably works (depending on paper stock and finish of course!). As an online ad it doesn’t work, but that’s not what it was made for.
    @martin campbell: agree entirely that this is much more than a brochure. Brand is more than a logo and a colour, and what they are saying is certainly taking on the weaknesses of the incumbents. If they deliver against it all, it will certainly do more than raise a few eyebrows.
    Sadly I suspect the press will punish them. With this level of service, it is unlikely the products themselves will be “best”, under the traditional price-flavoured microscope. It is imperative that they introduce *service* as a valuable commodity.
    Unfortunately @Affable’s take on it is likely to hold back customer growth – despite the inevitability of being p****ed off by your bank sometime soon, most of us won’t pre-empt that by changing providers.
    I think though I might go to holborn branch next friday

  • I’ll restate/rephrase my comment… I did not say Metro Bank needs “a super slick image,” nor did I say/suggest that “brand image is everything.” Again, I am very enthusiastic about the Metro Bank concept. I think their brand strategy is spot on.
    However, I challenge anyone here to explain how/why Metro Bank’s current brand image is on-strategy. How does the use of type, color, copy/message, tone, style and imagery complement, support and reflect the bank’s brand strategy? Why does the logo have a slash through the M? Why was a clunky slab face sans-serif chosen as the primary typeface? What significance does the all red-white-and-blue color scheme have?
    Design isn’t an afterthought. It shouldn’t be an accidental process, nor should it be influenced by one’s personal likes/dislikes. There are literally hundreds of decisions a design team must make when crafting a brand image. I struggle to see the synaptic connections between the image and the strategy. To me, it looks like design decisions were made arbitrarily, and with little regard/connection to the strategy.
    And Martin, while you may disagree with my perspective, I’m not sure how this kind of comment is helpful or necessary:
    http://twitter.com/martincampbell/status/19060452674
    I very much grasp that there is something “much bigger at play here” than just a brochure. Indeed, that is precisely my point. When it comes to brands, the message and the manner in which it is delivered are equally important. Once can’t dismiss the importance of a brand’s identity simply because you’re enraptured with the message.

  • Chris Skinner

    I agree with you to an extent Jeffry … although take a look at Anthony Thomson (Metro Chair’s) background.
    Anthony co-founded City Financial Marketing in 1987, which became Europe’s largest financial marketing consulting and communications group before being sold to Publicis in 1997. After this, he created the highly successful Financial Services Forum, the largest membership group I know that is dedicated to the financial services marketing community.
    Anthony’s a career Marketing guy by background so the branding brashness is a bit of a surprise.
    The blue and red looks a bit dated to me and I would have expected something far more Apple-ish, e.g. cool, for Metro Bank.
    Instead, from a branding viewpoint, we have Wal*Mart rather than Apple.
    Now Wal*Mart is successful, and so maybe Metro wants to be a blue-collar bank champion rather than a 21st century aspirational brand.
    Either way, I think the branding has some challenges as you have pointed out and we’ll see how the appeal plays out.
    Whatever happens, it’s nice to see that they’re doing something different, as per Matthew’s comments.
    Chris

  • Martin Campbell back to say thanks for the Twitter plug Jeffrey – http://twitter.com/martincampbell/status/19060452674.
    Perhaps laughable was not the right word. “Tragic” – yes, that’s better – certainly more accurate.
    The banking sector has just taken the UK closer to total economic meltdown than terrorists with a dirty bomb on Old Broad Street, and yet when the first new competitor arrives on the high street since flint knives were in vogue, promising a cure to many of the ills that really matter to real people, some designer in an ivory tower knocks them for – gulp – “questionable design” on a brochure reproduced in an environment it was never intended for.
    Yup. Not laughable. Definately tragic.
    This debate is happening in the equivalent of the Westminster Village. However, if 100 people were pulled in off the street to join us and asked what mattered to them from a new bank – they would NOT say the design of the brochure – or even the trillion pound advertising campaign (take a bow Lloyds).
    They WOULD say the quality of the service, the value for money, the degree to which they help customers manage their money better and the extent to which they can be trusted to be trying hard to do a good job for their customers.
    It’s not rocket science. It might not even be laughable. But it certainly is tragic that when the Banking Village looks at the first new entrant in the UK since the Ice Age, some industry folk disappear up their self-serving obsessions, leaving the paying customer as high, dry and badly served as they have been for decades.
    In fewer words – the quality of products, service and brand values (extent to which customers’ interests balanced with shareholders/staff/management’s) is what really matters. The brochure is – at best – a superficial wrapper. Worst of all, it, and other Marketing promotion techniques (advertising, DM, etc), share the blame for much of how the consumer has been lulled into putting up with such utterly appalling treatment by the banking industry for so long.
    See you on Twitter,
    MC

  • Martin, I have no interest nor anything to gain by engaging with someone who uses put-downs, personal attacks and name-calling to make their point.
    I am neither a designer nor do I live in an ivory tower. I have no self-serving interests, primarily because I offer no services to the banking sector. I am not a consultant in any form. I publish a B2B website on financial branding. That’s my job, nothing else. No hidden agenda. Sorry to disappoint, by my reflections are based on nothing but the work presented.
    And that is where our conversation concludes.

  • We’re running a mini-poll on Financial Marketing UK (http://bit.ly/am3XrV) asking what level of success people feel Metro Bank will have. Early results point to ‘niche player’ as opposed to wider penetration. And as far as their brand design goes, personally I feel it’s eager and ambitious but a touch clumsy. Their website certainly doesn’t feel like that of an aspiring national bank. Good luck to them – and I look forward to seeing inside the Holborn branch.

  • Alex Wulms

    I’m not an expert in font types or color schemes but what I do like about the brochure is that all the key messages about what makes this bank special do jump out. There is some further “small” print in the brochure to further explain the key messages but it is certainly impossible to miss them. So from my perspective, the marketing department has done a good job with this brochure in communicating what makes this new bank special and why you would want to change from your current bank to them.

  • Apologies to Jeffrey for causing such offence. But two further thoughts:
    Firstly, The extent to which the banking industry needs to overhaul itself, re-engineer its culture and personality (the true essence of its brand, not the veneer created by the marketing dept) and start to treat its customers with something better than contempt means that it is NOT going to happen quickly or easily or without all those involved being open and frank about the realities of what goes on. Dressing things up in polite and bland business-speak only serves to hide or nearly excuse the awful behaviour and past flaws of the industry.
    Secondly, a B2B website on financial branding is precisely the kind of place where, if the improvements that are needed in bank culture/brand values (the brand values they reflect in practice to their customers, not the gloss and veneer that’s put up by the marketing team to hide behind) are going to happen, the true reality of the banks’ past and current practices needs to be recognised and aired openly and frankly.
    And just to repeat my apology to Jeffrey – I am sorry – I really didn’t mean to cause personal offence. Please put my language down to the subject being something I feel very strongly about – and the two points I make above re the need to stop hiding sharp practice behind flattering and gentle business-speak and marketing gloss.
    MC

  • Geoff Whitehouse

    Interesting debate….the brochure, the copy etc is does strike me as very different to what’s out there at the moment – I can’t remember the last time I bothered reading banking literature that came through the post. So that in itself is branding, setting itself up as the outsider, the new kids on the block.
    On a personal level I hate the constant use of blue and red. If they wanted to be seen as ‘different’ then a move away from the traditional colours and a typeface straight out of the early 80s might have been a good idea.
    It does also strike me on first glance as a very obviously “american” approach, perhaps no surprise given the origins. That said from a pure design perspective it’s still far too cluttered and stylistically a bit all over the place. In this day and age of super-slick Apple-esque shiny and clean approach that does count for something – first impressions count for much.
    I’ll be interested to visit a branch to see for myself how their approach translates in a physical space. I like how they’re positioning the branch as a retailer and it’s not even that radical but common sense: a toilet for example. Never seen one in a branch before on either side of the Atlantic, only ever in Hong Kong.
    That said with no security screens should I hide the shotgun on my pet Weimaraner? Least he’d get a free biscuit 😉

  • the brochures and branding are very similar to what commerce bank did in the usa. their “naive” approach worked very well there and it will work even better here, given the absolute misery that is today’s retail banking experience in the uk.
    people don’t want another slick brochure. people just want a bank that doesn’t suck.
    i’m opening an account at metro 29 july.