Barclays repositions to ‘break its brand out of the pack’

Barclays is repositioning its brand in a move aimed at “breaking it out of the pack” and giving it a clear point of difference in the financial services sector.

The new direction for the brand is based on the insight that 12.3 million UK adults have little or no confidence in managing their money, according to data from the FCA Financial Lives survey. The strategy will encourage people to have a more positive relationship with their finances and to see Barclays as a helping hand, rather than part of the problem.

It also hopes to help the banking sector mark the end of a difficult period that has included the financial crash in 2008 and high-profile scandals such as PPI, and look forward to the world of open banking and disruptive competition.

“The sense is that the time is right to think about a repositioning of the brand that builds on the strategy and puts us in a place to take advantage of the way the world and customer needs are going to change,” Barclays’ managing director of marketing communication Alex Naylor tells Marketing Week.

“That is why we got to this ambition that we call ‘breaking the brand out of the pack’. The aim is to make Barclays more relevant, distinctive and empathetic than other financial services.”

The new strategy kicks off with a campaign, created by BBH, called ‘Make money work for you’. It is the first work since BBH retained the account earlier this year following a pitch aimed at finding a way to communicate Barclays’ ambition.

The aim is to make Barclays more relevant, distinctive and empathetic than other financial services.

Alex Naylor, Barclays

It includes two 30-second TV ads depicting people talking directly to the camera and addressing the issue of money to show it who is boss. The first, ‘Make Some Noise’, shows a young woman enjoying the freedom she feels after buying her first home and promotes the bank’s Family Springboard Mortgage. The second, ‘Hide and Seek’, advertises the spending feature in the Barclays app.

The campaign will also run in outdoor, print, radio, digital, social media, sponsorship and across Barclays’ own channels.

“The big human truth we find captivating is the idea that people have a complex, often difficult, relationship with money and they have begun to conflate that relationship with their bank with their relationship with money,” explains Naylor.

“Our strategy is to break that paradigm and focus on showing people how we can help them have a more positive relationship with money and therefore be seen as a partner to them in that mission as opposed to part of the problem.”

The new marketing approach also extends to its wider comms. Barclays undertook a deep dive into the creative norms in the financial services sector and found two key takeaways. The first was a “preponderance” of artificial lifestyle photography and the second a tendency towards product messaging.

Barclays 'Make money work for you'Naylor says that pushed Barclays to produce comms that are “much rawer and more honest”. In particular, it has used reportage style in its photography rather than staged photos and insisted on using emotive proof points in its copy, as well as a different font.

“The hope is this combination of the different visual style and focus on emotional benefits is compelling and people react to it,” says Naylor.

He adds: “Strategy is nothing without execution. It is really the creativity that elevates the thinking into something we believe will really connect and inspire people.”

Differentiating the Barclays brand

The sense that financial services brands are all seen as the same is supported by data. According to Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ ranking, ‘traditional’ UK banks have a differentiation score of just 97, compared to an average UK brand which has a score of 100.

However, Barclays does perform better, with a differentiation score of 110, although this is far below Monzo, which has a score of 174.

“We have a very powerful brand and we see the appeal and impact of the brand on our performance,” says Naylor. “This campaign is more a realisation that despite our position of strength, we are very much in a pack of big, well-known financial service brands with limited differentiation between them in people’s eyes.

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“We believe we have both an opportunity and a requirement to break the Barclays brand out of that pack. The opportunity is based on the belief that we have a deeply customer-centric strategy and a set of initiatives that will deliver on that. We have the ability to combine the innovation credentials of a fintech with the trust and human touch of an established high street bank.”

To evaluate whether the strategy has been successful, Barclays will measure brand consideration and equity indicators such as distinctiveness. It will also be looking at customer advocacy and NPS to determine success.

In addition, Barclays will use econometrics to measure the value of its marketing, hoping to see an improvement here over the long term (although Naylor claims Barclays already performs well on this measure). It is also hoping to see an internal impact and will be measuring colleagues’ reaction.

“Everyone is aware that business success is dependent on more than communication; your proposition and experience have to be strong. At the same time, we in the marketing world believe if we get the right idea and articulate it well, it is opportunity to galvanise people, inspire and build positive momentum internally,” he adds.

Brand versus performance marketing

While this is ostensibly a brand play, Barclays is hoping the campaign offers a creative platform that can better integrate brand and performance marketing. Naylor says he is keen not to get into an “unhelpful dichotomy” on the role between brand and performance, pointing to the impact both have on each other.

However, he says Barclays will be using tools including econometrics, market-mix and attribution models, and thinking about customer journeys and purchase models, so there is science and “strategic logic” to the allocation of its budgets.

“We try to not see these things as intention in the way people often do. We’ve put a lot of work into understanding the commercial impact that brand communications and brand have on business. And at the same time we’ll look at the way in which well-crafted performance marketing and even service and operational marketing can have a positive impact on brand and NPS,” he concludes.

“You can find case-by-case, customer-by-customer that you need to use different elements of the marketing mix to be successful. There is no shortcut to understanding those different paths and markets, and understanding the appropriate weighting of brand and performance marketing.”

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