What is the sound of one brand clapping?
At $13.5 billion, this brand is ranked 23rd in the world in value by the brand consultancy Interbrand. As a leading global financial services firm, this company has branches all over the world, including the U.S. and even two in Pennsylvania. Its slogan is “The World’s Local Bank.” Yet you’ve probably never heard of them and have no sense of what their brand is all about.
And that’s what makes them so interesting as a branding example.
Take a look at their slogan again, “The World’s Local Bank.” What does it mean to you? For many people it means very little because they are unable to connect it to anything else–a name, a logo, a branch location, even an advertisement. The concept of this brand has little or no meaning to these people because they have been unable to experience it in any way.
Ok, the brand is HSBC, based in Britain, a global giant, but with a relatively limited U.S. presence. What we can learn from looking at their brand (or lack thereof) is that brand messages only become meaningful in the larger context of the marketplace and communications. Any slogan or brand message only really achieves relevance when backed up by some kind of proof of the promise. “World’s Local Bank” means little to someone if there is no actual local presence to see or hear about.
Think about this in terms of the claims you make for your brand. Are you claiming to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the most versatile? Be sure that the message has a solid proof behind it that your audience can truly feel via your typical touch points. And find ways to reinforce those messages and claims as often as possible in your communication and customer contact. HSBC has been able to do that in many markets around the world. But they won’t succeed in this region until the brand has far more relevance and meaning than it does now.