Venmo’s brand personality in three words? “Friendly, accountable and a little off-beat,” says Kasia Leyden, Senior Group Marketing Director for PayPayl-owned Venmo and Braintree.
With that DNA in mind, Venmo today launches a new campaign, “____ Me” (which it’s calling “Blank Me”) as a fill-in-the-blanks campaign inviting audience participation.
The initiative also underlines Venmo’s brand status as a verb—with “Venmo me” a commonplace expression these days—and a lifestyle brand with a unique place in the cultural zeitgeist.
Inspired by users’ stories, “_______ me” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how people really talk to each another.
As Leyden explains in a blog post, “Our mission is to remove the awkwardness of IOUs between friends by celebrating experiences and connections. Venmo not only makes it easy and convenient to send and receive money—we also make it fun. It’s what we’ve been about since day one, and it’s why Venmo has grown so rapidly and built such an incredible community.”
The campaign captures the virality and grassroots of digital activations bringing people together daily and shows up in the hotspots where people most need to be “______ed” such as social occasions, sporting events, leisure spots like the beach or entertainment venues.
It’s now rolling out in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville and Miami as well as college towns across the country.
“We’re celebrating a new state of self, the way our users talk and the crazy stories they tell every minute of the day,” Leyden told brandchannel. “Big and small occasions – with irreverence. The platform positions Venmo in the cultural landscape and drives relevance as a brand.”
“We’ve experienced 135% growth year on year due to the virality of growth in the user interface – ‘Venmo me.’ It’s grassroots and users recruit others; it’s a place rooted in a particular use case. Rent, trips, nights out—a brand becomes a spectrum of occasions and becomes part of the vernacular.”
The goal of the campaign is to drive brand relevance and conversation about Venmo, she added. “We’re making sure we’re a part of the way the world is evolving today,” Leyden noted. “We want to be the answer to the only social app needed to make a payment.”
While millennials are the major cohort for Venmo, Leyden argues that “the word millennials is so big and broad, in thinking of our audience we’re considering it less as a giant group but rather groups of people who share social moments and exchange money when doing it.”
“Day or night, it spreads across the board. We see trends with customers, a desire for the apps that they use (to be) a part of their lives, no barriers between the user and brand. As an extension, Venmo knows what you’re doing, your funny stories, who you’re hanging out with.”
Asked about privacy issues, Josh Criscoe—who heads up Corporate Affairs and Communications for Venmo—told us they’re working on privacy settings and that users have control over who sees their posts.
“The goal is to provide options to be shared publically or not,” Criscoe said. “The beauty in Venmo is you don’t share with the other party except what you want—it’s part of PayPal’s 20 years of expertise in privacy and confidentiality, optionality. Users love the social sharing with the focus on experience. Our users grew up in a social media context and like the concept of logging in to see who’s doing what.
“Our most active users check in multiple times a day, looking at what’s going on, managing and moving or transferring money, and other users average two to three times a week. Venmo has growth because of real value. It’s a community of Venmo users. Really great brands provide value.”
Leyden added that “Our brand is a reflection of our users. This campaign comes from that. At the core of our brand strategy is Venmo makes money fun. What other brand can take something so cold and hard and bring a smile and a wink to that occasion?
“Venmo removed the tension and awkwardness from money and paying somebody, but let people talk about what they liked about the experience. Lasting connections between people is the special sauce. And fulfilling user expectation.”
At Interbrand’s 2017 Best Global Brands Summit in New York, Leyden said that for Venmo, fluidity of brand strategy is required, and that maxim is central to this campaign.
“Strategy informed our media buying and the organic viral growth of the brand,” she said. “Venmo has grown because two people or two groups have a common interest and need to exchange money. Venmo is a fun way to do that. Mimicking that insight into media started a grassroots approach that focuses on places where our users gather—bars, restaurants, college, sports, entertainment—and mobile. We’re running the campaign at that grassroots level where Venmo is most relevant. Mobile and digital are beyond second nature to our audience.”