Recently we sponsored the M&S Bank CIM North West event where the award-winning senior marketing team gave us an insight into key elements of their marketing activities and what they use to drive their successful brand.

We heard from Amanda Newman Marketing Director, Gemma Green Head of Digital Marketing and Sloane Cross, Senior Marketing Manager who presented to CIM members and marketing professionals from across the region. They took us through their journey discussing key elements of the bank’s success looking closely at brand identity, customer engagement, partnerships, collaboration and challenger banks.

In 2012 M&S Money became M&S Bank and opened its first branch. At this point they were already the cornerstone of the retail sector and were also a well-known and reputable brand in the financial services sector in the UK. This would be the foundation of their growth as a challenger bank that would truly establish M&S Bank as a major player in the banking sector.

@marketingPRoj tweeted from the evening: ‘M&S Bank 4.2m calls a year, 26m visitors to the website. A trusted brand. 25 years of financial products. No1 ethical bank. 3.7m customers.’

So how does a challenger bank launch a new brand into a market that is going through a crisis?  We were all ears!

Brand Identity
M&S Bank’s key strategy was to set themselves apart from their competitors and the market that had been previously dominated traditionally by large corporate banks. They did this by avoiding taking on board negative corporate bank related connotations and instead focussed on providing an excellent product, which is what they do well. They further created the brand by building trust, being transparent and putting their customers at the centre of all that they do.

They really examined their brand and what they wanted it to be. Its aim was to be trendy and one that people were proud and happy to be associated and bank with. They launched themselves in lifestyle magazines rather than financial magazines, stepping away from traditional financial advertising campaigns. They worked hard at embracing innovation by using full-page spreads and colours such as pink and not the traditional corporate look!

As an already established retail and financial services business, M&S Bank has utilised there position as a multifaceted business and taken it a step further by diversifying their offering to service customers through travel apps that offer services such as travel money worldwide, insurance, credit cards and reward points. With all these services, it’s a great opportunity to cross and upsell products and services.

Retail Collaboration
They tapped into their already highly esteemed and well-established customer base of over 21 million knowing that they were frequent shoppers and that they would have an interest in banking with M&S in the way that they shopped there for quality and reputation.

They positioned M&S Bank desks within their supermarkets further distancing themselves away from traditional financial institutions and increasing visibility and accessibility to current customers in a ‘one stop shop’ concept.

Customer Engagement
Most notably M&S Bank specifically capitalised on local marketing opportunities through their support of Chester Pride. Such strategies help set them apart from the usual large corporate image of banks, closer aligning them to local retail stores with customer-centric, family focused, and warm brand elements.

The success of their customer engagement is best reflected in their loyalty reward points scheme in which over 40 billion reward points have earned from which over 90% have been redeemed. This is a staggering figure which highlights how much loyalty was invested in the brand with so many of their customers looking to them for a full range of services.

Challenger banks and the rise of Fintech businesses
They have since continued to diversify and adapt in an era of challenger banks emergence such as Monzo or ATOM who offer online-only banking services and others such as Tandem and Clinc who provide innovative budgeting and financial apps. They have taken on board what these Fintech businesses have created and offered and diversified their products to come into line.

In summary, M&S Bank has seamlessly built a brand which is not viewed as a conventional Bank but more of a convenient and trustworthy option which has the customer at heart. A brand that is transparent and flexible, all the things the corporate banking world is not traditionally attributed to but that customers love.

The Candidate continues to be the sponsor of all CIM North West events. For more information click here!


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