Many years of fragmented communications product-focused advertising led to a steady decline in key brand metrics for HSBC UK.
By 2017, we were performing poorly against the main drivers of brand health, while UK-orientated banks such as Nationwide and Lloyds were succeeding. HSBC was challenged by local competitors, many of whom had launched ambitious new brand-led campaigns with big spends and powerful distinctive assets, drowning our communications out. Our ad efficiency – share of voice against advertising awareness – was consistently low.
We had also fallen behind on the most important drivers – we’d lost touch with what mattered to Britons. HSBC was no longer a brand with values they could identify with or be proud to use.
The one brand association HSBC owned – its international credentials built through years of advertising – over time became the least relevant metric for UK consumers in the category. Furthermore, our historic capability in the wealth management sector had led to perceptions of HSBC as a bank primarily for wealthy people.
Simply, Britons saw HSBC UK as ‘the Bank for Wealthy Foreigners’.
In a country increasingly experiencing anti-international sentiment, we needed to unify a fragmented brand that desperately needed to rediscover its voice and what it stood for.
We knew piggybacking on the Brexit conversation would spark controversy. But it wasn’t about creating controversy for controversy’s sake.
Research showed that most of HSBC UK’s customers voted to remain in the European Union. By focusing our advertising on HSBC’s values of being open and connected to the world we resonated with our existing customers as well as a new, younger audience.
We saw a 10% drop in the number of people calling us a global bank and a 13% increase in the number who saw us as a UK bank with a global network.
We increased HSBC UK’s current account sales by 50% versus the previous year and decreased years of negative social commentary from 51% to just 12%.
In 2018/2019 we doubled HSBC UK’S advertising awareness, their highest level ever since measurement began.
For every £1 spent on advertising HSBC received a £2 return on their investment.