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The definitive guide to brand building in the financial services industry

The key to building a successful company in the financial services industry, or any other for that matter, lies in building a strong brand. Mark Baynes, global cmo of Kellog Co went so far as to say: “Unless you have absolute clarity on what your brand stands for, everything else is irrelevant.” A brand is so much more than a nice logo or choice of typefont for a letterhead, it’s even more than how a business is perceived externally. Branding, at the heart of things, reflects the business itself – how it operates, what it looks like, its values, aspirations and its potential.

Brands have become so integral to the way in which customers percieve products they will often overlook pricing in favour of a brand they know and like. According to FNB, which has been awarded numerous innovation accolades, consumers tend to look deeper, preferring a brand they perceive to embody value, accessibility, trust and innovation.


An article in Forbes asserts: “Brands are psychology and science bought together as a promise mark as opposed to a trademark. Products have lifecycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable.”


So what does it take to build a successful brand in the financial services industry? We cite some examples:


Fruitful brand building relies on embracing mobile platforms

Mobile financial services platforms are crucial to brand building in that they offer accessibility and added value. Whereas in the past  these platforms were limited to basic transactions, these days banking and mobile payment apps have become multifunctional.

Customers percieve brands that are sophisticated, intuitive, consistent and safe as being trustworthy and by incorporating mobile technology companies can instil confidence and trust. For example, financial services brands are incorporating apps built around niche markets, (see our previous blog Mobile payments leading the way in banking trends for 2015). In other words, there is a move away from the one-size-fits-all mentality. Clean, intuitive and responsive design will increasingly be valued by the consumer.

Mobile wallets eptomise innovation –  another brand building must

Innovation is a business buzzword that is becoming increasingly important to branding. Consumers will place trust in a brand they perceive to be progressive, particularly if it results in significant social and economic change. In a country such as South Africa where issues of financial inclusion are all important, innovative ways in which to bank the unbanked will make consumers take note. M-Pesa mobile money, which is a system enabling those without a bank account to speedily transfer and receive funds, is such an example and continues to be a model of innovation and effective brand building.

M-Pesa has expanded its service into M-Shwari – a service offering investments, insurance, loans and savings without a savings or bank account. As we highlighted in a previous blog, in its first four months, M-Shwari had 2,3-million subscribers, with 900 000 having active accounts. In addition, products like Reload Mobile Money give people access to instant money transfers, the ability to swipe in-store for purchases, withdraw cash from ATMs or till points and make prepaid airtime and electricity purchases. The Reload card can be bought off the shelf, along with daily essentials like bread and milk.

Safety and security are brand building essentials

A secure environment should underpin all financial services activities. For instance, websites should have trustworthy and efficient payment gateways and comply with the Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI DSS). Companies that offer payment solutions, such as credit card and debit card machines, should also be PCI-DSS compliant. Paycorp is one of South Africa’s largest independent payment solutions providers, they have built their brand on trust, innovation and have been growing their product suite for over fifteen years.

To find out more about the variety of payment solutions that contribute to brand building, go to www.paycorp.co.za.