Monday, February 23, 2009

Icon for a Down Economy

My friend and marketing guru, Carol Phillips, says that brands become icons by speaking to the issues that are relevant to culture, becoming part of the conversation society is having with itself. The conversation today is all about prosperity lost…that we and our children may be the first generations of Americans to be less well off than our parents. When a former colleague asked me recently which retail financial services brands are doing a good job relating to customers these days, I realized I see an icon in the making.

Last summer, I thought the “Talk to Chuck” campaign was a winner – while the rest of the industry spent money on typical, hype-based advertising, Charles Schwab promoted it’s plain talk approach, straight from the CEO. The signature look and feel of the continuing campaign eavesdrops on “regular” people talking about the issues they’re facing in their financial personal lives.

But the latest ads have broader appeal than ever, given how the market nosedive has rocked the financial security of whole generations. And they tap the raw emotions currently being voiced at dinner tables across the country, and around the world. These ads speak to the right issues, in the right tone, at the right time.

The answer is surely not as simple as talking to Chuck - but that may be beside the point. Schwab is in the conversation, and continues to earn customer and market respect as well as new business. According to a Reuters story from Feb 19, “The company attracted $12.1 billion in new assets last month (in January), up 32 percent from December.”

Though the whole financial sector is out of favor right now, Schwab is poised to see its market share and valuation rise as time goes by and rivals fall by the wayside.

What other brands are doing the job and earning iconic status now? Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Carol Phillips said...

This is indeed a brand for our times. Good insight Judy. you are a marketing guru, yourself!