Deutsche Bank: building trust through brand strategy
Editorial

Deutsche Bank: building trust through brand strategy

Where does Deutsche Bank make a positive impact? That was the question Lareena Hilton, the bank’s global head of group brand communications and corporate social responsibility, asked when setting out to overhaul the bank’s brand strategy. Here, she tells CIM about the Positive Impact campaign

Positive Impact is a testimonial campaign that we launched last year internally, with employees. This summer, we launched it externally, with clients. With it, we wanted to connect with people’s stories, in order to demonstrate our role in society by looking at what they do on a daily basis. 

But Positive Impact is more than a campaign. It is a new brand strategy.

We had a brand strategy that had been in place for more than a decade. It had been relevant when it was first developed, but the financial services industry had changed a lot in that time – especially considering the financial crisis and its consequences.

As a firm we had addressed legacy issues, improved systems and controls, worked to make banking safer, and become more regulated. It was important to demonstrate that we had listened and learned and changed.

And we recognised that we needed a new brand strategy and positioning to reflect that, a strategy that our employees, as well as our many external stakeholders, could get behind. It needed to feel true to who we were, now, from a brand communications perspective.

A new brand perspective

We wanted the new brand perspective to be much more ‘eye-level’ and human. The narrative around banking had always been that it was competitive and ambitious, striving to be best in class, with unrivalled expertise. All of this was true of course, but it wasn’t the whole story and missed the fact that banking is about clients. After the crisis it was important to remind everyone of this, and that we’re a people-focused business. 

Other industries have undergone similar resets – from energy to automotive sectors. The days are over when brands thought that as long as they didn’t do anything really wrong they would be fine. Consumers today expect more from a brand than buying a product. They want organisations that are responsible and have a clear purpose, and that think about the impact they have on people and the environment. Younger generations are even more focused on that. Technology has also changed things dramatically in the way people communicate. It’s now done on a real-time basis and we have to adapt to customer needs much quicker. This shift isn’t just in banking, it’s a global change across all businesses.

Promoting trust and authenticity

In developing Deutsche Bank’s Positive Impact campaign, we’ve been working very closely with relationship managers and clients to tell the clients’ stories. We’ve filmed some of them for Positive Impact. A lot of the relationships the bank has with clients go back many years –they’re maybe 50, 60, or 70 years old. The relationship managers themselves may have worked with a client for 20 years. It shows that trust, partnership and authenticity are there. What we needed to do was unearth real stories that demonstrate how the bank enables economic growth and societal progress.

We’ve made 12 or so client films for the campaign, on a truly global level, and covering every business line, and we’ve seen just how important trust is in the relationships between the bank and client, whether it’s private or corporate. It says a lot about how we support our clients to achieve their plans and ambitions – and that’s something that we wanted to try to shine a light on.

Strength in simplicity and truth

Creating the Positive Impact campaign has taught me that when it comes to brand development, it’s best to keep it simple – and keep it ‘real’. We had done lots of research and knew the issue that we needed to address.

But the new positioning needed to be rolled out across multiple countries, multiple businesses, internally and externally.

With such complexities, the challenge was to find something that was relevant to everyone, but that would also have legs. The testing process allowed us to synthesise our ideas into a simple proposition, and it’s the simplicity of the campaign that is its strength. It’s helped me realise that brand strength comes when what you’re saying is simple – and true. It’s something I will always remember.

Hear more from Lareena in the latest edition of Catalyst, coming to MyCIM soon. To receive Catalyst magazine, sign up to become a member of CIM today from as little as £13 a month, and benefit from exclusive content, events and networks.

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