Showing posts from July, 2012

HSBC = Hella Serious Brand Contusion

Another banking scandal unfolds, courtesy of

The global bankHSBChas been used by Mexican drug cartels looking to get cash back into the United States, by Saudi Arabian banks that needed access to dollars despite their terrorist ties, and by Iranians who wanted to circumvent United States sanctions.

What's astonishing, especially in light of the recent unapologetic testimony by bankers such as Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and Barclay's Robert Diamond is this statement by the bank:

The company said in a statement on Monday that “we will apologize, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong.”

But Senator Carl Levin, who leads the banking subcommittee, was not impressed. 

“While the bank is saying all the right things, and that is fine, it has said all the right things before,” he said.

Clearly, HSBC's brand is severely damaged in the eyes of the senator, but what about it's customers? Recent banki…

Brand Refresh: A Point Well-taken for WellPoint?

According to Ben Protess of

WellPoint, one of the country’s largest health insurers, has agreed to buy Amerigroup in a bid to bolster its Medicaid business as the industry undergoes an overhaul....“We believe that this combination will create an industry leader in the government sector serving Medicaid and Medicare enrollees,” Angela F. Braly, the chief executive of WellPoint, said in the statement. “This is an opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of both companies to better serve our members and position our companies for future growth as the health insurance industry changes,” she added.

An opportunity in many ways, not just in the business sense, but also in the branding sense. WellPoint has been on an acquisition tear under Braly's leadership, scooping up 1-800 Contacts, a contact lens direct retailer, as well as CareMore, a provider of managed care for the elderly (a company we pitched several years ago...and didn't land, alas. Their branding is still lar…

Branding High-end Financial Services? Location, Location, Location.

I picked up my New York Times Magazine today, and because I know that a huge part of branding is association, looked to see which advertiser had purchased the prestigious back cover of the liberal's equivalent of the Sunday reading of The Scripture. I didn't have to get it through the full 180 turn before the deep green, gold bar, and handsome photographic portrait tripped my brand wires: First Republic Bank, featuring the vaunted computer scientist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist (he's probably a nice guy, to boot), Peter Thiel.

First Republic has it down. They didn't always have it down, as their ads used to look a little rough around the edges, and the photography did not always exemplify the highest production values. But the personalities/clients they featured were always topnotch. The 1% presented without irony, exuding confidence and intelligence. Good breeding quite optional (though success a requirement).
But as powerful in their brand mess…