Building a new service brand connection: Commonwealth Bank of Australia

CBA 'Retirement Planning': 2003 winner of the national Australian Marketing Institute award for marketing communications.


Banks - traditionally challenged to make financial planning a gripping topic of conversation







The brand problem – ‘you’re not on my wavelength’

Traditionally the CBA had used marketing communications to highlight retirement product features or offers. CBA's retirement planning service had not developed a distinct brand positioning or presence. In spite of CBA’s product strengths and resources, the CBA was not believed to be the best place to seek out ‘great advice’ for those planning for their retirement.

The business objective was to strengthen the CBA’s competitive position as a trusted advisor, in a market that is typically challenging – communication tends to be frankly worthy and dull – so it was with CBA's campaigns which not surprisingly had not been effective.

The tangible value of the marketing communications would be the extent qualified interest could be triggered to enable CBA retirement planners to then develop service relationships to deliver quality advice that would ensure deliver retirement security.


A fresh strategic perspective

CBA sought to proactively engage prospective customers and prompt them to discuss their financial planning retirement needs.

Rather than leap into the subject directly – the strategy was developed around the insight of self-perception – contrasted with associations of identity linked to 'actual age' approaching retirement. We wanted to engage with customers in a way that was more interesting and relevant to the audience that could be linked to the service of financial planning – by more emotively engaging the interest of customers based on themselves as people – rather than as ‘banking customers’.

Identity was critical to building empathy. By better understanding people for who they really are, we recognised they do not see themselves as a 'seasoned number' - but someone frozen in a youthful time - which to this day was driving their values and influencing their lifestyle choices. A shift from how banks typically view this audience.

This shift in mindset gave CBA scope to show more empathy for the true selves of customers – and how people typically regard themselves – and would like to be regarded. The campaign avoided stereotypes of retirement being a last stop on the journey of life. In doing so we successfully repositioned CBA’s ‘brand’ of retirement planning and set up more engaged interest with customers that drove significant increases in business enquiries and outcomes. 




The campaign generated an increase of 186% in leads for financial planners. The business value generated resulted in a a one-year campaign return on investment of 166%, and a projected five-year return on investment of 384%.


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