BRAND MANAGEMENT AND MARKETING RESEARCH UNIT (BMMRU) THE CHALLENGE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES BRANDING: MAJORING ON CATEGORY OR BRAND VALUES? Leslie de Chernatony and Fiona Harris
ISBN 0 7492 3535 7
Open University Business School, 2000 The Challenge of Financial Services Branding: Majoring on Category or Brand Values?
THE CHALLENGE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES BRANDING: MAJORING ON CATEGORY OR BRAND VALUES
Abstract Research suggests that emotional values are more sustainable than functional values. It is argued that in the services sector the key to sustainable brand differentiation is a unique set of emotional values. This paper examines the nature of financial ...view middle of the document...
The aim of this paper is to assess the nature and uniqueness of brand values in financial services. Branding in financial services is undergoing substantial changes, owing to the dramatic increase in competition following deregulation (Denby-Jones, 1995; Jones, 1999) and the threat posed by new entrants with retail branding experience (Watters and Wright, 1994; Cleaver, 1999). Success in what is fast becoming an overcrowded market will depend on effective brand differentiation, based on the identification, internalisation and communication of unique brand values that are both pertinent to and desired by consumers.
2. Differentiating services brands through value management
Branding in services marketing is about the blending of functional and emotional values (de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1999). Free (1996) proposed that services branding was about values, which “represent the heart and soul of a company” (p.31). Emotional values in particular are becoming increasingly important in differentiating brands. Previous research indicated that a brand’s emotional added values are more sustainable than functional added values, which may be easily copied (de Chernatony, Harris and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1999). Levy (1996) noted that, in common with fmcg marketing, financial services brands tended to focus on product features rather than true brand values. In discussing the future of banking, Jones (1999) observed that greater focus would need to be placed on emotional rather than rational brand values. Rokeach (1973) defined a value as “an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence” (p.5). Functional values in services branding do not just relate to what was delivered, but to how it is delivered (Grönroos, 1990), which is one of the fundamental differences between product and services branding. Powerful brands communicate their values through every point of contact they have with consumers (Cleaver, 1999). However, the involvement of staff in brand delivery engenders problems of a lack of consistency in service delivery standard (Zeithaml and Bitner, 1996). One way to overcome the service quality problem is to put more emphasis on brand management as values management. Values guide behaviour, particularly in novel situations (Wilkins and Ouchi, 1983). A key element of services branding is strong leadership (Free, 1996). This involves specifying the brand’s values and aligning staff’s values with them. Collaboration across departments to deliver and satisfy consumers’ needs is also required (Watters and Wright, 1994). Successful services brands attract, develop and retain staff who can translate the brand’s values into actions and behaviours perceived by consumers as appropriate and distinctive (Free, 1999). Examples of services brands which have used internal marketing programmes to communicate with staff...