What would you do to improve a bank's brand? Better content may be the key

Picture credit: PhotosByDavid/Flickr

Put the word ‘banks’ into Google News, and you get a steady stream of stories. Today’s headlines include “Cautious clients keep hopes low for investment banking” (Reuters), “Chinese banks shun depositors as rules bite”, and “IMF calls for shake-up of bank executive pay” (both FT).

What have they all got in common, apart from being about banks? They’re all negative stories. Even though the UK and US economy isn’t as bad as at the start of the recession, most consumer opinion of banks won’t amount to very much.

As a result, a report from NewsCred has revealed that consumers would trust their bank more if they would provide quality content.

Now NewsCred is a content marketing platform, so don’t fall down in shock that this is the conclusion the company reached. Yet some of the figures gathered were interesting:

  • More than half (58%) of consumers polled said that personal finance articles help them make decisions on their own finances
  • 57% said content from a bank helped them understand which products are most beneficial
  • Only one in five respondents said they’d trust content written by a bank employee, as opposed to finance journalists (53%) and independent experts (54%)

“Our study shows that consumer don’t trust just anyone when it comes to financial content,” said Shafqat Islam, NewsCred CEO, in a statement. “Banks need to think carefully about how they build their content strategies, using the right teams, tools and insight to make an impact and truly connect with their target audiences.

“The rewards are already starting to pay off for banks that are investing in quality content, through increased conversion, retention, trust and loyalty,” he added.

The report also found that consumers want to receive personal finance content ideally a couple of times a week (28%). 20% said they’d like around one article a month, while 18% admitted they were happy never to hear from their banks.

Plenty of banks out there have their own blogs, for various purposes – but certainly not all. HSBC’s Knowledge blog focuses on business opportunities, Sainsbury’s Bank blog zeroes in on life hacks and tips to save money, while Standard Bank focuses on world news and tips on how customers can improve their experience.

The big winner in all this, the report noted, was Santander, who partnered with The Times last year to create the SME Hub, offering a series of personal finance tips and tricks with a Santander banner ad down the side and a logo at the top.

 “Branded content doesn’t necessarily have to mean producing and distributing your own content from scratch at great expense,” the report notes. “Many great content marketing strategies depend just as much on licensing content or working in partnership with publishers to be successful without overburdening your internal team.”

One other potential avenue is social media, but the landscape appears fragmented. Take a look if you search for ‘HSBC Twitter’ for instance – a litany of accounts by content type and geography. The two main types of content for banks would be news and customer service; some try and combine the two, while others, like Barclays, keep it well siloed.

You can get access to the full report here. What would you do if you were tasked with rebranding a struggling bank? Let us know in the comments.

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