Community Banks Increase Brand Recognition
Retail Delivery News (08/16/00) Vol. 5, No. 17 p.56; Basso, Peter

Michael Peinovich of the branding and interactive commerce firm Siegelgale offers several tips for community banks that want to boost their local brand recognition. Peinovich stresses a consistent campaign emphasizing two or three main selling points that the bank has to offer, and the bank must be able to live up to those selling points as well. In addition, the bank's message should have some connection to its product. Peinovich cites Baltimore-based Harbor Bank of Maryland, as well as County Bank of Merced, Calif., as community banks with good branding campaigns. Founded two decades ago with a focus on minorities and the disenfranchised, Harbor Bank now hopes to be a full financial-services institution focusing on the small businesses and churches in its community--its advertising uses the motto, "Big bank services, small bank spirit." The bank and its people are dedicated to reaching out to the community, offering seminars and other educational ventures to teach community members about finances, says bank President Lester Johnson. County Bank, which has quadrupled the size of its branch system to 16 branches in the past half decade, is attempting to brand itself "as a regional community bank but [with] the assets and services to provide what customers and businesses needed," says Tom Hawker, the bank's president. He hired Becky Perez to serve as senior vice president of marketing; among her initiatives were a consistent advertising theme, a single logo on all the bank's stationery and branches, and the slogan "Bankers with a Heartbeat." County Bank also emphasized its employees as an asset, using photos of its people in all its advertising. Pienovich also says a bank must know its community and figure out the most appropriate way to reach those in it.

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