NSB Staff, Customers Embracing New Power Of Local Branding

Published: December 08, 2018 at 08:00 am


While a lot of smaller banks across the country work to make themselves look like their larger corporate competitors, Newtown Savings Bank President and CEO Ken Weinstein is seeing his team and customers celebrating an ambitious new branding campaign that touts its small town roots and hyper-local focus.

“In April 2018, we launched our new brand with the introduction of the new tagline ‘The Power of Local,’ highlighting our ties with the community and our customers,” Mr Weinstein told The Newtown Bee during a recent interview where he was accompanied by Marketing Director, and First Vice President Kathy Gugliotti, and Tanya Truax, Public Relations Director & Vice President.

That comprehensive brand launch was disseminated through local communities, tapping actual NSB customers instead of actors or models for a variety of multimedia ad and marketing campaigns. He explained that the bank’s Power of Local branding came about as NSB sought to distinctify itself in an industry becoming more competitive and commoditized every day.

Faced with the unique challenge to authentically differentiate itself while showcasing what the 163-year-old institution already represents, Mr Weinstein said NSB worked with Farmington-based Primacy to craft the new brand and ad campaign, which was first introduced to all employees last February at a “red carpet” event held in the Edmond Town Hall Theatre.

During that event, a video was played on the movie screen debuting the accompanying ad campaign featuring new brand ambassador Lauren Bond, followed by individual product ads featuring other NSB customers Michelle Hawli, Ellen Ritzinger, Todd Ingersoll, Lucy Manos, Eavyn Fernandez and others.

Many of these "brand ambassadors" were in attendance for the debut and were presented with appreciation awards.

Following the kickoff, a comprehensive multimedia campaign was launched introducing The Power of Local and highlighting NSB’s ties with the communities they serve as well as their customers. Over the summer, the bank also introduced the new branded minivan that is driven to NSB sponsored events like summer concerts, road races, and the Newtown Labor Day Parade.

“It’s like a mobile billboard for our new image,” Mr Weinstein said.

Regarding the corporate makeover, Ms Gugliotti said, “we knew our brand needed to truly reflect our personality, and for that, we needed a new visual identity and tagline.”

“This challenge took us on a strategic journey that helped us really understand what our customers and employees care about,” said Ms Gugliotti. “We knew our values and what we stand for, but we wanted to be sure to that the true expression of our mission and values conveyed that.”

The Brand Emerges

After surveying employees, holding focus groups, interviewing stake holders, conducting competitive scans, and collecting customer data, Mr Weinstein said the true nature of the brand began to emerge.

“We began to define our brand personality and develop a marketing approach with a clear focus on our ties within the community and putting our customers first,” he said. “As a local bank, Newtown Savings Bank can do things other banks can’t.”

Being a small bank, the chain of command is relatively short, so decision-makers can act quickly when good ideas present themselves to help promote the bank’s new imaging — like putting a new brand wrapped van on the road.

“All Tanya (Truax) had to do was pick up the phone and tell me we might benefit from having a new van with our branding on it, and within a few weeks, we have a new van,” the bank CEO said.

Thanks to closer relationships with customers and the ability to make decisions locally, Mr Weinstein said NSB can roll out new products and services that more closely match customers' needs, such as their Great Start and Great Prize savings accounts — and a new Local Rewards Credit Card program.

Mr Weinstein said NSB’s new Great Start Savings program was developed as a way for families to teach their little ones the power of saving. "The bank pays an above market rate for the first $1,000, encouraging children to save and start planning for their future from a young age," he said.

The Great Prize Savings promotion was developed to encourage customers to save with a chance at winning a little extra money. Each quarter, a winner is randomly selected from the pool of customers who have this account, and they received $1,500 with to spend as they see fit.

“It’s always great to meet our prize-winners and hear their stories,” Mr Weinstein said.

And since supporting local businesses is so important, the bank’s new "Shop Local, Score Rewards" program does just that by allowing the bank’s Rewards Mastercard cardholders to receive local bonus reward points for every dollar spent in NSB branch towns.

"This not only benefits the customer, but also the businesses where customers make their purchases," Mr Weinstein said. “It’s a true win-win for everyone.”

And when it comes to more than a century-and-a-half of support to agencies in towns the bank serves, the CEO pointed out that supporting communities is in the DNA running through each and every NSB staffer.

“That is something that we do every day,” Mr Weinstein said. “We believe that our contributions and partnerships enrich lives while creating a stronger, more vibrant community for all.”

Since launching the NSBCare program in January 2009, bank employees have performed more than 65,000 community service hours supporting more than 330 local nonprofit initiatives.

“While the Newtown Savings Bank Foundation was established 20 years ago, between 2017 and 2018, we donated over $600,000 to the community through our Foundation and Community Support budget,” Ms Gugliotti added.

Customers As Spokespersons

So what is it like to represent the Power of Local? Ms Bond, who is one of the NSB customer brand ambassadors, said she has literally been with the bank since birth.

“Twenty-nine years ago, when I was born, my parents, who were also Newtown Savings Bank customers, started my first savings account for me,” she said. “And I never had any desire to bank anywhere else.”

Having spent time living in Monroe, Trumbull, and Shelton, she has found the branches in those communities have been convenient for her as her need for banking services grew.

Ms Bond said it was somewhat surreal when she walked into her Shelton branch and saw her image on the desktops of every computer, and her co-workers are frequently calling her to tell her they have seen her in pop-up ads on YouTube, as well as on a huge billboard in Southbury.

The psychiatric nurse for St Vincent’s Behavioral Health said Newtown Savings Bank provides her with the type of friendly, personalized service she almost takes for granted, until she hears horror stories about other banks.

“It’s just nice. You go in there and you feel like you know people working there, and that they know you, too,” Ms Bond said. “The best part about them is they are a local bank that pays attention to the needs of every customer.”

Ms Ritzinger is a relatively new customer who fled one of the big national banks to escape the corporate atmosphere.

“It seemed like they were always charging me extra for stupid little things, so I though going with a local bank would be better for me,” she said, adding that she was nominated for the ad campaign from the banker who she first encountered when she came to NSB to open that local account.

Another ad subject, Ms Hawli, owns Salon Michele. She not only does her personal and business banking at NSB, but the Power of Local photo and video shoot she was part of was filmed at her husband’s restaurant, Market Place Kitchen & Bar.

“We recently moved to Woodbury, so we use the Woodbury branch, the Southbury Branch, and the Newtown branch,” she said. “I’ve gotten tons of feedback from clients and friends who tell me ‘we got you in the mail today, or we have your picture up on the fridge,’ because I’m on a lot of their new mailers.”

Ms Hawli said she thinks it’s fabulous that NSB is using local people to reinforce their local presence and focus.

“I think it will help draw even more people to use the Newtown Savings Bank,” she said. “It’s exciting that they are doing so much to reinforce their local commitment to customers and their business clients.”

CEO Weinstein said while it is exciting to go through a new brand development and launch, the focus really is on much more than the accompanying ad campaign.

“To make the brand work, you have to live it. It’s not just a slogan or catch phrase or ad,” he said. “People have to feel it when they encounter the bank, whether it’s in the branch, digitally, or at an event out in the community. And I think we bring our history of service, community-mindedness, and our very deep and loyal community roots to existing and potential new customers through our Power of Local.”

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