Five Secrets to Success for The Merrimack
In 2002, a small community bank called Merrimack County Savings Bank joined our client roster. By 2016, that little mutual bank had grown over 400% to become a powerhouse banking brand in New Hampshire, regularly winning “Best Local Bank” honors in consumer polls from Concord to Nashua.
How did it happen? While other banks grabbed headlines with high-profile mergers, Merrimack County Savings Bank grew on the strength of our smart, consistent branding and communications. Here are five insights that can offer valuable lessons for your own brand.
- Define your differences.
A key element of branding is the crafting of an organizational story that employees and customers alike are proud to associate with. Drawing upon attributes that customers had valued going back to the 1860s, we developed a platform affirming the bank’s dedication to value, respect, responsibility, honesty, stability and community. We called it Merrimack Style. And it wasn’t lip service; instead it was promoted bank-wide until it became part of everything, from the attitude of branch staff to the voice of brand communications. In an era marked by constant bank acquisitions and revolving-door service, Merrimack Style stood out as a timeless alternative that spoke to New Hampshire customers.
- Make a name for yourself.
Abbreviations and acronyms are popular with marketers, but they rarely inspire love in anyone else. As we listened to customers, we heard them speak not of “MCSB” but of “The Merrimack.” Thus we found our preferred form of reference for hundreds of projects over the next decade, banishing “MCSB.” If you are going to great pains to develop a customer-centric brand voice, make sure your essential vocabulary is jargon-free and meets customers on their terms – while sounding great when passed along via word of mouth.
- Hold on to your authenticity.
For our “Merrimack Style” TV commercials, we let real customers and staff talk about the bank – unscripted, unrehearsed and 100% genuine. Getting an eloquent, spontaneous narrative from people unaccustomed to speaking in front of a camera often proved challenging. We avoided professional actors and scripted copy and used the natural insights that felt true to the brand. And the award-winning results validated our direction.
- Celebrate your champions.
Nothing pays off your brand promise like a helpful employee who goes the extra mile with a smile. At The Merrimack, exceptional service is recognized not with a mute wall plaque but with “STAR of the Month” branch celebrations featuring balloons, gifts and personal congratulations by the CEO. STARs are named in press releases and pictured in external newsletters, building even stronger bonds with customers while inspiring colleagues to deliver a similar level of service.
- Maintain a consistent brand and voice over the long term.
A brand should be a living, thriving thing. We helped The Merrimack evolve their brand continually over the course of 14 years, helping the bank achieve new levels of growth. Merrimack Style enabled the bank to maintain high awareness, positive perceptions and a growing share of wallet among the customers and communities it serves.
If you have similar goals for your own brand, take advantage of our experience. Contact us today at (603) 658-1600.