As a tide of bank mergers swept the Philadelphia area, two Bucks County mutual banks decided to unify. It was critical that the unification of these two longstanding, independent local banks be handled effectively in order to retain existing customers and acquire new ones. It could not be perceived as just another bank merger; being mutuals made this business decision different, and the branding and communications plan had to reinforce that difference. Even the language was different; it was positioned not as a “merger” but as a unification of two equals to form a new entity.
Furia Rubel was retained to create the new bank’s brand, from logo and color palette to market positioning and key messages, and then to communicate about the unification and introduce the new brand to the public.
Furia Rubel’s analysis included market research, competitive assessments, target audience surveys, consumer focus groups, and interviews with key bank employees and board members. Research revealed that distrust of corporate banks gave Penn Community Bank the opportunity to remain a trusted, local option for existing customers and to attract new customers.
Furia Rubel recommended a multifaceted communications plan to drive home the key messages: the new bank would remain independent, would stay under local control, and would remain committed to its community, just as its predecessor banks had done for a combined 225 years.
To position the new bank as the trusted, local, mutual financial organization in Bucks County, Furia Rubel implemented a strategy emphasizing local connections through internal communications, community relations, media relations and marketing.
The communications campaign kicked off with the November 2014 public announcement of planned unification and continued through the fall 2015 announcement of the legal unification and the ensuing rebranding process. In January 2016, the new brand was publicly rolled out, and the communications plan reinforcing local community connection extended throughout 2016 and 2017.
Internal messaging focused on calming any nervousness for bank employees, highlighting the fact that no bank branches would be closing and that new opportunities would arise within the new organization. External messaging focused on securing the banks’ reputations as locally controlled and trustworthy, reassuring all stakeholders that Penn Community Bank would remain an independent, mutual financial institution, dedicated to the financial wellness of its customers, the empowerment of its employees, and the betterment of its communities.
Deliverables included all-employee email marketing messages and phone scripts, grand opening customer events, speaking engagements with local business and community organizations, direct mail pieces, detailed welcome kit materials for all customers, advertising, new branded branch signage and promotions, video, social media messaging, press releases, and targeted media pitches to key contacts in the greater Philadelphia area media, important trade publications, and newswires.
Furia Rubel created media kits that included press releases, fact sheets, leadership biographies, high-resolution photographs and brand materials. The agency pitched the media with news stories as the bank announced new hires and promotions within the bank, community service initiatives, and the creation and launch of a community foundation.