Canada’s banking industry isn’t nearly as crowded as its US counterpart, but the bulk of competitors in this financially lucrative space are giants.
There are just six Canadian banks with a national presence in the highly regulated and consolidated industry, all of which are multi-billion-dollar operations, plus a few hundred credit unions that are growing rapidly through mergers.
As banks increasingly vie for a larger share of customers’ wallets, they want to position themselves as friendly, easy to deal with, financially rock solid as well as providers of a great deal.
Even though the Big Six, as they’re commonly known, might seem interchangeable to many Canadians, each one has adopted its own branding strategy:
- Scotiabank tells customers they’re richer than they think.
- BMO touts its leadership in innovation.
- RBC emphasizes its leading position across most segments with its tailored client experience.
- CIBC offers “banking that fits your life”—complete with talking penguins.
- National Bank’s “one client, one bank” strategy targets entrepreneurial up-and-comers.
- TD Bank Group’s “banking can be this comfortable” campaign features a comfy leather chair.
TD’s campaign has arguably achieved the deepest market penetration. Launched 14 years ago, it seeks to elicit feelings of being kinder and gentler than the traditional bank, and, indeed, than it used to be.
Along the way, the campaign has included commercials featuring a pair of grumpy old men complaining about lousy banking hours and bureaucracy, only to be pleasantly surprised that their views are horribly outdated.
Dominic Mercuri, TD Bank Group’s chief marketing officer and executive vice president, spoke with brandchannel about how the bank keeps its brand fresh. The biggest challenge in refocusing a brand that is so big in the marketplace, he says, is “to continually evolve with changing consumer expectations and to keep things fresh.”
Mercuri was named Canada’s “Marketer of the Year” in 2014 by the Canadian Marketing Association. He was also recently presented with the inaugural Interbrand Brand and Business Leadership Award for his role as a marketing leader with the “vision and fortitude to shift expectations of an entire industry through the power of brand.”
“The enduring success of the TD brand, as evidenced multiple times on our Best Canadian Brands ranking, is inspiration for the Canadian marketing community,” says Carolyn Ray, managing director of Interbrand Canada.
brandchannel: Why did TD make the shift to comfort?
Dominic Mercuri: We did extensive customer research to understand customers’ views on banking and to determine what the key brand drivers were. Frankly, they said banking was not comfortable. In 2000, TD and Canada Trust merged, which marked a pivotal point for the brand. The merger provided the opportunity to build a brand uniquely focused on the customer. Each and every day, we strive to deliver on our promise of “banking can be this comfortable” by putting our customers at the heart of everything we do.
bc: What were the risks in not refreshing it?
Mercuri: We regularly review what customers want. We believe they still want comfort but it may be delivered in different ways over time. A brand is far more than a logo or slogan or shield. It embodies your relationship with your customer, so you want to ensure you’re evolving alongside your customers’ needs. We know our customers want experiences that are comfortable, convenient and human, and we’ve been successful in building a strong brand because we put our customers first.
bc: What are the pillars of the TD brand?
Mercuri: The essence of the TD brand is about making banking comfortable and delivering legendary customer experiences at every point of interaction—in branch, over the phone, online and through our mobile app. As we look to be there for our customers, wherever they are, this extends to creating meaningful connections in their communities and through their social networks.
— TD (Canada) (@TD_Canada) April 17, 2015
bc: Does it sufficiently distinguish TD from other banks and credit unions?
Mercuri: While banks have similar product mixes, TD strives to deliver those products and services in our own way, with a focus on legendary and comfortable experiences. Because banking has typically been perceived as an uncomfortable experience, TD has worked to make that experience comfortable through a strong understanding of our customers’ needs and a commitment to deliver it to them, and more.
bc: How is the brand reinforced these days via social media?
Mercuri: We came to the social media space pretty early for a bank with the launch of a Facebook page in 2007. To meet the needs of our customers, we’ve grown on other platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. In 2010, we launched our flagship program, “Social Customer Service,” to connect with customers via Twitter and Facebook, and now have more than 70 agents dedicated to monitoring and responding to customers seven days a week, 17 hours a day throughout North America.