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Marketing Briefing: A bank rebrands into a fintech

  • In this week's briefing, we've got Customers Bank's rebrand into fintech-y realms.
  • In other news, here's what Dave's new CMO has to say about the newly public challenger bank's marketing plans.

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Marketing Briefing: A bank rebrands into a fintech

Customers Bank, a top 100 bank with around $20 billion in assets, made the news at the end of last year for its fintech-focused rebrand. 

The rebrand came following the bank’s participation in almost 350,000 PPP loans (amounting to an aggregate value of around $10 billion) and the launch of its blockchain-based RTP platform for digital asset and cryptocurrency companies (which amounted to $1.5 billion in deposits).

With these being two pretty darn fintech-y domains, the company decided to take the leap and make its look more tech-infused. According to senior vp of digital marketing Adam Bell, who joined the company in July 2021, the new brand identity involves finding the balance between high-community and high-tech.

“It's about how do we maintain that balance of being high-tech and high-touch, and still have that spirit of community that wowed our customers before,” he said.

One of the most obvious changes since the rebrand has been Customers Bank’s new logo (you can get a nice before-and-after picture here).

In short, the new logo has gone from featuring the American flag to featuring two interconnected circles. The new look is meant to connect innovativeness with community.

“We have two concentric circles there. The top circle represents our customers, and the bottom circle represents the bank,” said Bell. “And the two circles are joined together by lines, because we feel that we want to be a part of our customers’ lives. It’s really representative of the path that we were taking. We wanted to keep that fine line between our previous statement and where we are headed.”

Together with its new logo, the bank has launched a new app and a new website. It’s also looking to build on its products and create more fintech-forward offerings. Around the time of its rebrand, for example, the bank made more moves into crypto domains, by adding details to its new CBIT token.

As banking becomes more tech-driven, it will be interesting to see how established banks keep their long-held authority intact, while branching out to a more fintech-y feel. 

Q&A with Michael Goodbody, Dave’s new chief marketing officer

Early this year, challenger bank Dave went public through a SPAC merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings III. 

The move marks a big milestone for the banking app, which was arguably the first of its kind to give banking a personable feel. It's been far from the last, though, and now Dave’s new challenge is keeping its image intact while still staying ahead of competitors. 

In February, Michael Goodbody, a fintech marketing veteran, joined Dave as the new chief marketing officer. 

With fifteen years’ experience in the industry from both Wise and Credit Karma, Goodbody has a lot of thoughts to share on Dave’s marketing strategies thus far and plans going forward. 

Are there any parallels you've noticed between Credit Karma and Dave?

I think if you look at how fintech has really accelerated in the US over the past five years, it's been this realization that the way to really truly grow a business, particularly in the neobanking space, is to focus on this sort of subprime audience. 

There’s been this understanding that there’s opportunity in serving people that currently are underbanked and lower-income, because they're the ones that historically haven't had a great service and haven't really benefited from technology’s impact on finance. This tends to be the user base that is overly impacted by fees, because that's the way that the big banks or any bank has historically monetized them.

That was very true at Credit Karma, and it's very true here.

How would you describe Dave’s marketing strategy so far? How do you plan to build on that going forward?

It's non-traditional to be a financial services company that’s got a human name – or even a mascot. So it's a question of how do you make that work for you and how do you make yourself stand out with that in the market? 

Dave has been able to build a business around a killer value prop. If you think about the fintech market in the US right now, there's quite a lot of people who claim to offer a similar product, but three years ago, Dave found a unique space by being able to offer access to short-term credit, without a credit check and without charging fees.

The early phase for the company has then been to ride on the back of what is great product innovation, and being able to get that message out with a really strong focus on DR marketing. 

But over the last year or so, we've really been trying to figure out as a company how to broaden away from that core value prop and be more for our user base. And that's been about leaning more on the brand that Dave’s created and moving beyond that single value prop to a number of value props that we’re testing. 

There's a ton of equity in what Dave’s been able to build. Just as a brand, for example, it was one of the first companies that really personified a financial services product, in terms of the name. So there's a lot of equity that's been built up there. 

And then for me, it's now been about coming in and building around that to get us to even further scale.

What marketing channels have you been exploring?

Just purely as a marketer, and that’s true if you ask anyone in marketing and growth, I think the advent of TikTok has been exciting, because the digital channel mix has felt a little bit stymied for a long time – you had the two big players in Google and Facebook and a couple of others like Snap and Twitter kind of biting their heels a little bit. 

But seeing TikTok come in, with more time on screen than any other social platform – including YouTube in the US – has been really interesting, because it’s given us an opportunity again to go back to where we were six or seven years ago. There were a ton of opportunities in the market back then to be gained in terms of first mover advantage on some of these ad platforms and networks. 

So I think that's exciting, and something that any marketer who’s out there at the moment really needs to have as their number one objective to solve.

And then generally speaking, there's been a bunch of movement in the last three to four years of traditional channels being leveraged in a similar way to digital channels. So there's been a lot of innovation, for example, in out of home and OTT.

We're excited about all of that stuff. For me, the challenge is really that Dave is very much a DR focus company. So a big focus is going to be on how we take that approach and expand beyond our core channels, which today have been primarily digital.

Dave has been described as bringing to mind a friend – someone you can grab a beer with. How do you maintain that image but still prove you can be trusted with people’s finances?

It’s a great analogy. I think the key part of that is understanding that people actually do trust friends and family a lot more than they trust people in financial services. Quite often, they'll trust their friends and family a lot more with advice and decisions than they will somebody they don't know who just happens to work at a financial services company. 

If you look at some of the companies that have done really well, especially Credit Karma, or Chime potentially, those are the companies that have recognized that being friendly, being compassionate, being supportive, are really important ways to differentiate your brand. 

I don't think it's actually in any way a conflict to be friendly and personable – and in Dave's case, maybe even a bit more soft and cuddly – and also to be trusted. 

For anyone who’s spent a bunch of time being told that finances are hard, and who has grown up to be somewhat concerned and afraid of finances, [being friendly and personable] can drive a ton of trust. 

But it comes back to recognizing that this might not be how everyone perceives financial services, and may not want that emotional response to a brand that they're doing their banking with. 

The right way of playing it is to mean a lot to the people who are your core users, rather than trying to mean a little to everyone.

What we're reading

About fintechs and marketing automation (Inc 42)

Mobile app trends – fintech and ecommerce app use is on the rise (Marketing Dive)

Smaller hotel chains turn to fintechs to launch their own rewards cards (Skift)

What fintechs are saying about the Fast collapse (Private Banker International)

Juni, a Swedish ecommerce bank, is officially launching with new products and a new identity (altfi)

New partnership between Dallas Cowboys and will give fans access to the football team’s NFT content through their wallets (Yahoo! Finance)

How data gaps lead to marketers losing the full picture of their consumers (Finextra)

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