Close Brothers is a financial services group comprised of more than fifteen business divisions – from asset, invoice and motor finance, to savings and wealth management. Their clients are a combination of small businesses and private wealthy individuals.
Although a successful FTSE 250 firm, they operate in markets where they’re consistently outspent by the big high street banks, meaning that it can be difficult to cut through the noise.
WAY THROUGH STRATEGICALLY
When we started work with Close Brothers Group, they were an ‘under the radar’ sales-led organisation operating under multiple company names in a fractured manner. We worked directly with the Group board, arguing that unifying under a single brand and building an inspiring brand story would help grow their business. We set simple measurable objectives of Awareness, Consideration and Recommendation.
The process began with a series of customer and stakeholder interviews to really get under the skin of what Close Brothers means to its clients and employees alike and to find insights that would capture the values common to each business division.
Our research showed that a lot of business and wealth management communications come across as ‘corporate’ and ‘cold’. Yet when we interviewed Close Brothers customers we quickly realised that when you’re running a small business or investing your money, it’s actually a highly emotional experience. Making the right financial decision impacts not just your bank balance but your sense of personal worth and happiness.
We saw the opportunity to take a more optimistic, positive and human approach to our communications which would separate us from the corporate approaches of other banks and finance providers. We wanted to help the organisation unite around a purpose and we worked with the business’s stakeholders to find a single word which epitomised the benefit that Close Brothers brings to its customers: THRIVE.
WAY THROUGH CREATIVELY
The THRIVE campaign launched across national and regional print, radio, digital video and display using a distinctive bold art direction style and a series of hard-hitting emotional messages. We also enlisted the iconic jump Jockey Sir AP McCoy to embody what it means to thrive and the values we wanted to highlight: hard work, grit, determination, teamwork and resilience.
To add depth to the advertising communications, we negotiated a bespoke racing sponsorship package which gave Close Brothers and the THRIVE campaign a presence at race meets up and down the country. This included:
Signage and hoardings: appearing year-round, upweighted in locations with televised race-meets. 4 million people per year attend race-meets; 30 million watch on television and online per year.
Race and event sponsorship: We sponsored races at the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National to build links to racing and visibility.
Sir AP McCoy: the most successful jump jockey of all time brings a human face to our sponsorship. As well as providing cut-through:
•He makes our race hospitality days and golf days ‘money can’t buy’ events.
•He joins us at high-end client events in the Jockey Club rooms.
•And he speaks at employee events.
•His image and story provide a powerful embodiment of our message, transforming this event sponsorship into a powerful communications tool.
When Covid hit (with big impacts for many of our customers), the temptation for many advertisers was to pull spend until normality returned. But we saw the opportunity to show our customers that we would continue to be there for them despite the challenging circumstances. We adapted the THRIVE message to add a sense of empathy while still maintaining our sese of optimism: ‘ACTIVELY, PRACTICALLY, WE’LL HELP YOU THRIVE AGAIN’. This was supporting by comms emphasising Close Brothers’ longevity and its track record of continuing to lend money whatever the economic climate. Not only was the tone empathetic and appropriate for the moment, but it also allowed us to be consistent in our use of THRIVE thereby continuing to build the brand (instead of changing tack to entirely different campaign thereby weakening brand equity).
The effectiveness of the campaign was tracked primarily through a combination of quantitative brand tracking study but with additional insight provided through digital campaign performance metrics (clickthrough, engagement, dwell time) and qualitative feedback from Close Brothers business and their customers. In addition, the racing sponsorship strand used Kantar to ascribe equivalent media value to the coverage generated.
The campaign has contributed to an increase in prompted awareness of Close Brothers (up from 65% to 78%), consideration (up from 68% to 76%) and recommendation (up from 56% to 70%). This has coincided with an increase in Close Brothers’ loan book from £6.2bn to £7.5bn.
Kantar assessed that the coverage around the racing activity specifically drove equivalent media value of value of £2.9m – (more than 7.5 times the annual sponsorship cost). This represented 97.3m OTS and included coverage on BBC, Evening Standard and Daily Mail. We also use our brand tracking activity to assess whether those who follow horse racing had an increased propensity to be aware of, consider and recommend Close Brothers. We found awareness of those who attended a racing event in the past year was 15% higher than for non-racegoers. Close Brothers awareness amongst those who watched The Cheltenham Festival on TV was 10% higher than those who did not with similar patterns for recommendation and consideration.
'THRIVE': BRINGING A PURPOSE TO LIFE (Creative/ Media/ Fluent Device)
How we brought Close Brothers' purpose to life in a distinctive way to ensure it stands out from the sea of financial services sameness.