Modern Marketing

Inside BNY Mellon’s marketing strategy

  • Considering it's one of the oldest banks, BNY Mellon has been at the forefront of innovation, whether its in emerging technologies or in its marketing
  • BNY Mellon is using the popularity that Broadway has brought its founder, Alexander Hamilton, to share the story and history of its brand
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Inside BNY Mellon’s marketing strategy

There’s an intriguing innovation race taking place among legacy banks in which everyone wants to be second to market. Except for BNY Mellon.

The 233-year-old bank prides itself on its history of firsts. It provided the first loan to the U.S. government and was the first stock to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Later, it became the first bank to create a mobile trading app for its clients. Today, it has nine innovation centers around the world learning about new technologies to be able to educate and inform its clients, which make up 78 percent of Fortune 500 companies, on how to use them to keep up with changing business models.

This “pioneering spirit,” as Aniko DeLaney, the bank’s global corporate marketing head calls it, is deeply integrated into the bank’s culture as part of the legacy of Alexander Hamilton, founding father of the United States, the U.S. financial system and of BNY Mellon itself. It’s DeLaney’s job to carry the legacy, but with a view on innovation. To do so, she and her team feature a Test Your Knowledge of Our Founder quiz on the website, as well as short videos (less than two minutes) on BNY Mellon Then and Now, Hamilton’s Impact and The Buck Started Here. The bank also sponsored the now Peabody Award-nominated PBS documentary, Hamilton’s America.

It also publishes an annual People Report, which highlights how the firm’s investments in people have been the key to success and showcases the work of more than 50,000. It’s advertised in seven parts on the bank’s YouTube channel.

Tearsheet recently caught up with DeLaney at NewsCred’s #ThinkContent Summit on BNY Mellon’s mission to educate through storytelling. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

As one of the oldest U.S. banks, BNY Mellon appears the least shy about new technology.
Today, we have nine innovation centers around the world and one of the key topics they’re all talking about is a distributed ledger, which of course we know as blockchain. That’s where our employees are really being challenged to say there are interesting technologies that are disruptive, new business models. We’ve kept these beautiful handwritten ledgers and we have account information from Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Back in the day, that was very advanced, to keep track of accounts and information. 

So you’re on a mission to educate?
My role is to share what the evolution of our services are. For example, what are we going to do about blockchain? We really do want to work collaboratively with our clients because as they’re changing their business models, we want to help them operate in an agile manner — and part of that is learning what’s offered out there. Again, we’re a well established firm so I get the benefit of having that foundation and being able to share our brand story.

Where do you connect with clients?
In this quickly evolving [content and information] arena, people use various channels: social media, they may be checking Twitter, which is a constant news feed, LinkedIn for talent, Facebook for connections, YouTube for education. We’re focusing on those channels, where we believe more and more of our constituents are looking for that expertise and good content.

How do you tell that story?
Our teams are not only thinking about optimizing the actual channel but designing the content to be easily digested; more snackable, more videos, more infographics. It’s hard to have all the key messages in the right format based on the channel. It’s a fun challenge to figure out how to bring those messages in the most appropriate manner to the audiences out there. The level of sophistication has grown so much.

Suddenly it seems like banks are tech companies that employ technologists. Is there a language barrier with the “traditional” bankers and clients?
Our business models are evolving. So the way we interact with clients, our marketing, the language is evolving. We are definitely focused on the evolution of our technology in our innovation, so we’re using robotics to really enhance some of our operational processes. But this marrying the best of man and machine — just trying to explain its capabilities requires some new language and new examples. And I think that also gets to the stories.

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