Employing a Brand Identity as a Competitive Advantage for Customer Experience

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Creating an external brand identity, Aktia Bank has raised the customer experience game in the financial services industry.

Jan Brantberg is the Head of Customer Relations and Bank Integration at Finnish financial services company, Aktia Bank. He spoke at the Customer Experience Transformation: Financial Services conference in London this week, about the importance of branding across all channels as a fundamental part of creating customer experiences.

There is often a gap between how you can make an impact and how you can deliver this, and he discussed the framework Aktia Bank has employed to change the external identity of the brand to ultimately enhance the customer experiences they provide.

Framework for Creating a Brand Identity

During his presentation Jan provided insights into where to start when you are trying to create a brand identity. He also allowed the audience present to discuss the inception and marketing of a new product in teams, applying the principles he discussed – with innovative results.

What are the key principles of creating a brand identity?

First you need to understand your target group. Ask yourself who your customer is and be really specific. Jan warned that businesses often try to speak in the same voice to too many different customers.

Once you understand your audience, uncover how you are different from your competitors. Find three to four key attributes that differentiate you. Next, use these attributes to create a unique message; this is your brand promise. This is very important and the shorter the message the better. Though you do need to ensure you’re specific.

When you’ve established your audience, your differentiated attributes and your brand promise you can have a look at your website, branches and other customer contact channels to ensure that the brand identity comes through in each one of them.

Case study: Aktia Bank

Branches are the number one customer contact channel for Aktia Bank, because it provides a combination of a physical space, a personal connection and different senses, something which their other channels are not yet able to compete on to creating amazing customer experiences. However, NPS scores showed them that customers were unsatisfied with the branches and sales were falling.

Their mission to turn it around was creating Aktia stores to support both sales and help the declining branches.

To formulate the brand identity of the new stores, they held innovation workshops. It started with a pitching day, which was an open invitation to all personnel to come up with ideas for the new branches. This led to an innovation race, where different teams raced against one another with their ideas.

Jan showed the audience at the Customer Experience Transformation: Financial Services conference the concept and finalised store designs of the store, and there was a distinct, serene identity with colours and a layout not often associated with a bank branch.

An innovative way in which they’ve heightened their brand identity is by using a soundscape which is gently present in the background of the store. The sound emulates privacy, cosiness (so it feels more like home than work) and relaxation.

Before implementing the soundscape full-time they had it on in the store every other day and questioned customers daily on whether they enjoyed their visit. The days the sound was on received better ratings than the other days, proving that it was worth implementing in the store and they’ll also start using it in the branches going forward.

Have you considered what sound your brand might make? If not, this interesting concept is worth exploring in addition to establishing your brand identity to enhance the customer experience you provide.