Scott Frederick

If anything is certain in the current economic environment, it’s the fact that what passed for “business as usual” for banks for so many years just simply won’t work with customers today.  Yet many banks appear to be so hamstrung by their cultures and traditional processes that they are unable – or unwilling – to change or even to listen to what their customers would tell them, if asked.That is not the case at Bank of North Georgia (BNG), a Synovus bank with a strong business base in metro Atlanta, and a Frederick Swanston client since 2004.  Since its beginnings as a community bank in the 1970’s, Bank of North Georgia has grown to 41 branches and enjoys the fifth-largest market share in Atlanta, behind only the large national and super-regional banks in the market.  That kind of growth didn’t come from being afraid to change, in order to meet customer expectations.

The Atlanta market has been beset by mergers and the influx of many new bank brands over the past couple of years.  This, combined with the difficulties all banks are experiencing in these tough economic times, makes the creation of a distinctive and believable bank brand even more challenging than ever.

In order to learn what business owners really want from their bank today, Frederick Swanston recently conducted a research study of business owners across the BNG footprint.  While the specific findings are proprietary to BNG, some insights we can share are very illuminating:

  • It should come as no surprise, for example, that business owners are very skeptical of what they hear from banks these days.  Most have adopted a “show me” mentality.  They are no longer willing to accept a bank’s claims about a particular service or expertise strictly on face value.  It has to be demonstrated.
  • Business owners perceive most banks as having an automated, non-personal approach to customer relationships.  And that is not what they want.  They expect their bank to take a genuine, personal interest in their business on a one-on-one basis, even taking the lead in proposing strategies and tactics that will help.
  • Bank advertising is not resonating with customers, who see most of it as “me too” messages that all sound the same.

Frederick Swanston is currently developing a new brand position and messaging platform for Bank of North Georgia, based on the findings of the study.

Let us know what you think of today’s banking environment!



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