Branches are the focus of much of the mission-critical decision-making in financial services today. Following a year of pandemic-fueled cost-cutting closures, “a growing number of banks are beginning to [now] execute expansion plans instead,” according to a Believe in Banking article on banks recommitting to their branch networks. That’s not surprising given that six out of ten consumers plan to continue visiting their local branches for years to come. In addition to branch expansion plans by Chase, Citi, BofA and others, increasing merger and acquisition activity has financial institutions needing to implement a cohesive and consistent conversion of their branch networks.
In the recent Financial Brand article Avoiding Branch Rebranding Headaches in Mergers and Acquisitions, Adrenaline’s chief experience officer Gina Bleedorn and managing director Frank Beardsworth share their thoughts on the demands of branch rebranding. “Interactions in branches now have a heightened importance and value,” according to The Financial Brand. “They help shape experience and guide consultative selling.” Expanding on concepts in the article, Gina Bleedorn says, “Branch interiors truly impact advocacy – certainly of customers, but also of your staff. In integration and conversion, it's critical your staff buys into the new brand and the new experience inside.”
The Financial Brand summarizes the complicated process this way: “Inside is where the transformation gets really specific. Adrenaline estimates there could be up to 45 different customer-facing elements in a given branch that need to be taken into the new corporate brand.” Given that many financial institutions have never undertaken a branch rebrand of this scope, developing an organized and operationalized approach is necessary for success. Gina Bleedorn says, “Clients are looking for effective strategies to balance cost and timing with quality and brand integrity. It’s achievable, but you need partners with experience in this type of planning and prioritization.”
Though the article, and our recap in our last Perspective article, provides excellent guidance on principal considerations – including investment tiers, an outside-in strategy and cultural alignment – one thread ties it all together. Managing the myriad elements is essential to a successful rebrand. “With hundreds and hundreds of assets to align, reconcile and rebrand, it very quickly becomes a mammoth undertaking,” says Gina Bleedorn. “What people need is some sort of easy button for rebranding the branch experience.” A platform like AMP is what Adrenaline uses to 1) holistically document 2) analyze and assess and 3) create a plan for reconciling in the form of a kit-of-parts that you design into.
This kit-of-parts approach, managed inside a robust and real-time platform, has worked for thousands of branch rebrands – with organizations ranging from national and regional banks to community institutions. “We’ve seen many banks use M&A as an opportunity for long-overdue updates to their entire branch network, but organizing this process can be a beast,” according to Frank Beardsworth. Once you’ve made investment decisions based on performance and opportunity, you have to document the current state and all your physical assets. “You need to navigate the inside of branches on a detailed level, like a version of Google Maps street view for the outside and the inside of the branch.”
A platform that organizes the process is not just for the design time to document and deploy. It’s also a communications vehicle where key stakeholders can collaborate and coordinate decision-making and benchmark progress. “Choices and customization can be really complicated, especially when you have so many people involved in a branch rebranding process,” according to Gina Bleedorn. Getting eyes on branches for quality control checks without ever walking into locations is now possible thanks to technology. “From on-site branch managers to remote members of the C-Suite, getting everyone on the same page and facilitating as minimal disruption as possible is really essential.”
For a powerful example of branch conversion featuring Adrenaline’s client First Horizon along with all of Gina and Frank’s insights on the branch rebranding process, see The Financial Brand’s full article Avoiding Branch Rebranding Headaches in Mergers and Acquisitions. A digital resource for banking executives, The Financial Brand covers issues vital to retail banks and credit unions from the brand to the branch. To learn more about the branch conversion following mergers and acquisitions or to speak to one of our financial services and banking industry experts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (678) 412-6903.
Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.