By Jeff Caporizzo
When I was listening to the recent Senate Hearings on the national foreclosure crisis, hearing the lending executives testify about their process and procedures and, to some extent, apologizing, I found it interesting, and at times emotional – especially when Chase Bank's Lending CEO was interrupted in his testimony by a man calling him a liar.
And while this sparked several feelings in me as a family man and provider, it also underlined a time-tested axiom about building a great brand.
Namely that sometimes your brand's biggest crisis is also its biggest opportunity.
The banks and Wall Street are taking a brand-beating on a Beyond Petroleum scale. You can argue whether they deserve this (if you could find anyone who would disagree), but in any case the net perception is that these financial folks put profits over people at the expense of the financial security of the nation and the world at large. Pretty serious, rotten, stuff.
Any bank or financial institution's messaging and brand is colored by this perception, trumped by it, basically their marcom plans for the next year or so are in the dumper. Their advertising campaigns irrelevant, the smiling pics on their collateral laughable.
So what is the next step if you're a bank and you don't want to be reviled forever? How do you fix your broken brand?
The answer is simple: Do what is right.
Let's take Chase for example. Imagine the media explosion if Chase did an about-face today.
Imagine if they took out one-page ads in all the major newspapers, posted a single page on their website, and held a press conference that Chase was suspending all foreclosures until further notice. Not for a process review, but in an effort to keep people in their homes. In fact, Chase was adding 25,000 more staff to work with borrowers on a case-by-case basis. Imagine if people who had been on the receiving end-of-loan default officers suddenly got a call from a Chase representative that said "Hello, I'm here to help keep you in your home. Let's see what we can do."
Do you know what would happen? People would go nuts. The media would go nuts. Chase shareholders would go nuts. Chase competition would go nuts. There would be disbelievers and skeptics, naysayers, and naggers. But people would be going nuts and talking, talking about Chase Bank.
And after all that died down a bit, and if the promise held, the people all across the country who were facing eviction, who had been looking into the eyes of their children and saw their own reflected worry and pain, and who now had some much needed daylight in their lives - well these folks would start to testify.
They would testify for Chase. They would talk about the one bank that heard them, the one bank that helped them. They would give interviews. They would blog, they would write letters, they would openly weep. They would become customers for life. They would help bring new customers to Chase in droves, they would tell their kids to bank with Chase.
They would change the Chase brand for the better. The company brand would vault into marketing legend, and the goodwill equity from this action would resonate across their audiences for decades to come.
And all of this done without an advertising campaign. Without a slogan, without a new logo. Not some marketing flim-flam, just a company living its professed values, and doing what. is. right.
Because your customer is a person, and doing what is right is the human thing to do. When you treat people as human beings, when you listen, when you help them in times of need, something happens every time. You earn trust, respect, and sometime even love. Trust. Respect. Love. Not bad brand attributes eh?
Instead, Chase is counting the numbers, they're consulting investor relations gurus. They're also missing an opportunity to fix their brand.
Jeff Caporizzo is VP/creative director at ZilYen. To find out more, visit zilyen.com