Team Spirit Team Spirit

we love blogging

Thursday, 27 September 2007

A is for insurance


Whatever happened to, the AAAAAA insurance Company? A thought popped into my head this morning so as usual it is going to be shared.

In the days when the directory was king and by far the most cost-efficient way of doing direct response [Oh and for you young ‘uns our there I’m talking telephone directory not net directory]

Companies were often named so that they came top of the list so it wasn’t unheard of to see not just, aardvark insurance, but the more impressive AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhh! Insurance Inc. and so on.

Today in a world of naturalised search, all you need is a word density of about 7% and content to match a relevancy algorithm to ensure you come top of the list, how wonderful is that.

So goodbye to such naming conventions as they are slipped quietly into the dustbin of corporate history or the note books of branding anoraks.

The recent history of naming has been all about the proposition or naming your USP all of which were founded in descriptive techniques you now the kind of thing British Airways, then came the naming of the outcome or customer experience, all good emotive stuff like…Yahoo.

But now as the web is driving nomenclature everyone is searching for not just a name but seemingly a single word, that has the equivalent of the web ‘X’ factor, an unused .com domain a recent example being Eefoof , no I kid you not!

But me, if I had a choice between an unused domain with a descriptive name in it or a great sounding company name that had a less than perfect domain I'd take the later every time.

For me the Eefoof of today will become the AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhh! Insurance Inc. of tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Trust after Northern Rock

Jo Parker

The ‘Financial Services Trust Index’* commissioned by us, over the weekend shows that less than half (46%) of the general public considers high street banks to be trustworthy.

After days of customers struggling to withdraw funds via Northern Rock’s website, faith in direct and online banks is also low, with only one in four (25%) of those questioned declaring confidence in the Internet banking system.

The current volatility in the UK’s financial sector has also left levels of trust low across the industry, with credit card companies (22%), insurance companies (20%) and investment companies (7%) all scoring low. Building societies are shown to be the most trusted product provider, with a score of 48%.

The Northern Rock situation has contributed to the low levels of trust that the British public has in companies that look after their money.

But, with the UK having one of the most regulated financial services markets in the world, our industry offers customers a great deal of choice and flexibility. What we could see is an increase in consumers visiting firms with a reputation for being open and transparent and treating their customers fairly such as Lloyds TSB and Britannia Building Society to name but two.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Fun-ancial Services?


Trident chewing gum has got an interesting approach to its branding. The whole of its communications seem to be based on the theme of having a good time – check out its crazy website if you don’t believe me. I even saw a competition on, run by Trident, to win a day’s Zorbing. Sounds like fun.

And that, I suppose, is the general idea for your subconscious. Trident = fun.

It reminds me of how Red Bull started out. The phrase ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ didn’t appear to be enough, and the company now has two Formula One teams, an international Air Race, a British Superbikes team and also has its energy-fuelled little fingers involved in just about every sporty pie there is. Again, the website is filled with examples about how far Red Bull has gone to push its brand.

It got me thinking about the financial services industry – there aren’t many examples of the ‘fun factor’ alive and well in our world. There’s a lot of sports sponsorship, but not many companies depicting out-and-out enjoyment in all that they communicate with potential customers.

Sheilas’ Wheels (disclosure one of our clients) is one name that springs to mind, and we all know how successful Peter Wood’s girls have been with the British public. Sure, silliness and sassiness might not be the way forward for every financial services brand, but it would be nice to see from a select few.

After all the negativity that has surrounded the industry in the past two weeks, it would be nice to see a few finance firms putting some smiles on people’s faces.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Yay for PR


It's nice to see a client promote our work and the following release appeared in Marketing Week highlighting the mobile site we created for Scottish Widows.

Oh the fame!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Given Northern Rock troubles, will savers shun online savings accounts?

Jo Parker

Given so many people haven’t been able to withdraw money from the Northern Rock website in the past week, I’m left wondering what the impact will be on those with savings in online savings accounts?

It might mean we see a swing back to the favour of high street players, where you can at least queue outside to get your money out if you need to. Certainly worth watching how savers react in the next few months…

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

What is the purpose of a creative idea?


I don’t want to get too esoteric and start spouting brand and marketing gobbledegook, but I do want to talk about the fundamentals of a creative idea.

I was browsing IFA Online this morning and came across a banner for that notable protection company Scottish Provident. I read the message about the fact they’ve paid out on average £45 million for the past 11 years, all laudable stuff.

However, what made me stop and think was the flying kite they used in the creative - it seemed to hang there with little or no purpose, no witty puns about flying high or bright ideas on the wind, nada, nothing, zilch.

Then I thought, was it put there as an engagement piece? You know the stuff about how creative ideas are there to engage first and then let you consume the advertiser’s message at your leisure and if you’re interested. The recent Cadbury's Gorilla being a prime example of this; demonstrate joy and by association you prompt the thought that the Cadbury's product is a-glass-and-a-half-of-milk-charged joy.

But when you look at this particular banner neither a pun nor an engagement idea seems to be present. I then wondered whether the destination would have some creative payback. I clicked through to the website which has a fine picture of mountains (presumably Scottish), but no hint of any link with the said flying kite or indeed the £45 million message.

So I then went back to the copy. It says ‘recommend protection that goes a long way’. Well being a literal sort, kites aren’t free to fly a long way, that is exactly what the string is for.

I then came back to my first impression that this wasn’t advertising, it was messaging. Now if you work for Scottish Provident please don’t take offence, I’m not picking on you. What is true of this banner is true of lots of financial services advertising.

It seems to believe that just having something to say is reason enough for an audience to pay attention - well I’m sorry, it isn’t. Even in a B2B environment where it’s my job to pay attention, I want more payback than an annoying looping kite. I’m time poor and like the rest of my colleagues want to be rewarded for my precious attention.

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong and the Scottish Provident banner will become the shake and vac of our time, yet without a catchy jingle or clear product demonstration I think not. We all work in a sector plagued with a lack of trust, abstract products and complexity, so we have to work doubly hard to ensure our communications have real ideas that capture people’s imaginations and considerably more than mere messaging.

Friday, 14 September 2007

It's grim up North


It's going to be time for the PR peeps at Northern Rock to earn their money over the next few days.

What is most mysterious is why there is absolutely no mention of the Bank of England loan on their homepage and they are still running an internal banner asking users 'Looking for a loan?' whoops.......

No doubt anyone who has a mortgage with them will be hitting the site first thing this morning. I am not sure a state of denial is the best policy. Perhaps the story breaking has caught them out but it seems unlikely as it has been building for a while now.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Time to wake up to the Retail Distribution Review!

Jo Parker

Look it’s time to think about the consumer when it comes to the Retail Distribution Review. All our research shows an increase in demand for the need for tailored, independent financial advice. But if, as we fear, the RDR (as we affectionately call it) means there is confusion about what an independent financial adviser is (and it MUST mean someone who searches the whole of market) then consumers won’t be able to get what they want. The best, impartial advice available.

So let’s have a voice when RDR is reviewed in the Spring of next year. It’s in the consumer interest.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Some mobile work


We don't often show off about our work but personally I'm pretty pleased with the new mobile site we have created for our client Scottish Widows which takes the tax calculator project we have developed for them into the mobile space.

It's nice to work with a client that wants to explore this stuff and is keen to lead the way in FS marketing.

It's also been fascinating seeing just how the multitude of handsets deal with the content.

My feeling is that there is still a way to go in making mobile a quick/engaging experience for users but that the rate of change is such that we won't be far away from making it something close to the way BT tried to convince us it would be 5 or 6 years ago. Couple this with fixed price deals on bandwidth and the more people use this stuff the more companies will invest in it.

Anyway it's all a really good excuse for me to go and buy an iPhone shortly - purely in the name of research you understand.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Credit cards are the new Jazz


Being interested in all things financial means that you pick up things like this

Here’s something I spotted on the blogosphere an artist in Madrid is playing the magnetic stripes on bank and credit cards to hear what 0% APR on purchases till June 2008 sounds like

I’m sure mine will sound like a cross between Miles Davis and claws on a blackboard