In retail banking, the communication strategy of credit institutions is facing new challenges. Beyond the cyclical impact of the crisis, new ways to “consume” banking seem to emerge. Lebanese banks should definitely start thinking how to redirect their traditional communication campaigns and tools.
Communication strategies are usually required to follow the development of new technologies that impact the consumers’ behavior. All around the world, it has even become common to use the Internet or mobile phone for banking transactions.
However, in Lebanon, we are still at, lets say, stage 1 (or you can call it web 1), where banks’ certainly do have websites (at least…) but where these websites are definitely in need of some renewal or should I say revitalization. Let’s take a quick look on what is out there:
Remarquable Design on « Microsoft Paint » for SGBL
Moderate-purple static inkblot for Byblos Bank
Rather kitsch animation and pixelized logo for Crédit Libanais
Strictness and severity for Bank Audi
Kind of appealing and dynamic home-page for FNB
(but don’t bother clicking to see what’s behind the images)
A bit of interactivity but lots of ambition for BLF
(these guys are great: they have even created a Facebook Page, a channel on Youtube and a group on Linkedin and everything is actually linked to their website!! :p )
So even if all the major Lebanese banks have created web portals, they are far (faaaaaaaar) from being present in all territories that new technologies have created. These territories include new audiences generated by social networks that are growing surprisingly.
The challenge for the banking sector lies in the conquest of these new spaces and the seduction of their audiences.
In this context, banks should be wondering about new ways to attract and develop customer’s loyalty. Communication campaigns based on a general message and distributed exclusively through television and advertising are no longer covering the entire customer base and have stopped responding to the changing selection criteria. The « revival », (which is starting to emerge with BLF’s campaign around « Ambitions »), should be structured around 2 main axes:
First, banks should start positioning themselves on the new audiences crossroads that are distinct and separate from traditional media’s audience. Social networks are new contact points banks need to exploit. These channels should be progressively integrated to communication strategies because they allow banks to be visible among a population of Young adults, which is a particularly attractive target for banks. But beyond visibility, these new means of communication offer the opportunity to interact directly with customers.
Secondly, banks should really be thinking about developing real branding strategies, stop acting like companies only and start acting like real « brands ». While they have almost all a very strong reputation, only a few banks have managed to build a strong identity around specific and distinctive attributes easily identifiable by the client. The promotion of a brand is only possible if it is linked with a promise and values that are in line with customer expectations. In this framework, communication actions taken by banks should above all, relay and make the brand promise more credible.
In this era, consumer’s behavior and clients fields of expression have radically changed. So why not use the web to set the tone for a new more collaborative customer relationship?