Modern Marketing, Podcasts

Positioned alongside its customers’ financial journeys, Citizens Bank pivots its brand to ‘Made Ready’

  • Citizens went public almost five years ago and continues to evolve.
  • The bank is launching a brand pivot called Made Ready with artist Questlove.
Positioned alongside its customers’ financial journeys, Citizens Bank pivots its brand to ‘Made Ready’

It’s been nearly five years since Citizens’ IPO. A lot has happened during that time and the bank continues to evolve and make changes. Today, Citizens is announcing its new Made Ready brand platform. As part of the launch, the bank is partnering with eclectic artist and musician Questlove. Powering the message of the brand pivot and all the activities behind the launch is the positioning of Citizens’ commitment to enabling its customers’ unique financial journeys.

Joining me on the podcast today is Beth Johnson, chief marketing officer and head of virtual channels at the bank. She straddles a range of the bank’s customer-centric initiatives and is driving how Citizens leverages tech, big data, content, design and delivery. We talk about the new branding and what it means for the institution and its customers.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Why a new platform now

We wanted to build upon the trust we’ve built with our customers over time and expand it to changing consumer needs in today’s dynamic marketplace. We’re launching the Made Ready platform to support our customers in a very personalized way on life’s journeys.

We think now is the right time — we’re almost five years past our IPO. We want to make sure we’ve evolving on our own journey as a company, just like we’re evolving with our customers’ journeys.

What Made Ready means

Made Ready is about supporting people on their journeys. When we took a step back and asked where Citizens wanted to be in the future, we looked at a formula to support that idea with our customers. We focus on a timeless truth — that everyone’s journey is unique. Whether you’re an individual, business owner, or Citizens itself, it’s hard work and we’re going to evolve.

There’s another truth that’s playing out today — life is much less linear than it was in the past. We use a jungle gym example, but people are moving through life in new and different ways. Whether it’s kids moving back home after working for a few years or managing multiple projects in the gig economy, we wanted to respond to that that by saying ‘we’re on the journey with you.’ We recognize it’s a unique journey. We’ve invested in tools to help customers through the journey. That’s how this campaign links in to our capabilities in data, analytics, and digital.

Citizens Made Ready Campaign
Citizens’ Made Ready Campaign
Source: Citizens Bank

Questlove as a focal point of Made Ready

When we started thinking how we wanted to launch the campaign, we looked for a symbol that would help us break through to different audiences — particularly younger generations under 40 years old. We landed with Questlove because his personal journey, like many of us, is so unique. He’s never been linear — he plays and produces music, teaches at NYU, and when he signs his books or gives an autograph, he draws a design. He once said that he had 19 jobs — he’s so authentic and manifests Made Ready in real life.

Building out the necessary data and analytics tools

We’ve been investing over the last three or four years with our data and analytics to support our customers on their individual journeys. For example, if a customer has a child going to college, we’re thinking about how she has the relevant information she needs to understand what she can afford and understand the different ways of paying for school. We have tools for parents to talk with their kids about school affordability and of course, we can provide the financing as needed.

We’ve built some of the capabilities to understand our customers and know when it’s appropriate to have some of these conversations, but we’ve also created the pipelines to get them information across different channels. I often say to our head of data and analytics that getting the data is the easy part, but getting the channels in place is more difficult. It can be through emails we send or content we surface online or on mobile after a customer logs in to his account. But it can also be with tools we provide to our branch colleagues, so they know it’s a relevant conversation and can be prepared to have a good dialogue with a customer on his need.

We’re really looking across all our channels — including our contact center — to have a real solutions conversation unique to each individual customer and his personal needs.

Citizens Made Ready at Back Bay
Citizens Back Bay storefront
Source: Citizens Bank

Targeting Made Ready

We are targeting this campaign to our younger customers — that 25 to 40 year old demographic embarking on their financial journey. That said, we are absolutely looking to ensure that this campaign resonates with our older customers and doesn’t alienate them. We think we’ve effectively done that.

We also believe this campaign works with our corporate clients and employees, as we’re looking to attract future talent to Citizens. It’s been a great example of a timeless truth that resonates across age and other demographics.

Use cases

On the commercial side, we’re thinking about our customers’ working capital needs, so we can almost play the role of CFO coach for middle market companies. On the consumer side, we have an opportunity to help our younger customers manage debt and buy their first home. We want to ensure that we’re focused on key journeys so we’re Made Ready for them to help along the way.

Campaign channels

This message will be in everything we do. We’re excited about how Made Ready is resonating across different constituencies. We are launching in overarching media on TV and other places. But more than that, we’re bringing this to life in our colleague communications and how we recruit.

We’re going to be doing a huge multimedia push with Questlove. He’s going to release a Made Ready song that we’re debuting at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts on September 27. It’s where he went to school. We’re going to use creative eyewear, like the kind Questlove wears. We’re also going to have signature glasses that people can use to take a video of the event. We’ll pull video snippets together from the crowd for the new song. We’re also asking everyone — customers and employees — to take a video snippet about what they’re Made Ready for. People can send it in to us and we’ll edit it and use it in the video for the song.

We’re also partnering with Vulture to launch this broadly across the marketplace. We have a simple quiz for people to talk about what’s important to them. They will be assigned a persona regarding what they’re Made Ready for to share on social media. We’re looking at a true omnichannel campaign utilizing paid advertising, mass media, television, social media, and podcasts to make sure this is everywhere across the market.

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