Using market research to relaunch a brand
A first direct case study

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Page 5: Revitalising the brand

This process of brand positioning and product development through a programme of extensive market research enabled first direct to relaunch the brand. In doing so, it made adjustments in its marketing mix.

Place is a key component of this mix. When first direct launched it offered banking services to customers who did not want to be tied to visiting a branch during opening hours. It continues to offer 24/7/365 accessibility. It supports different channels to access services including web, text and phone banking. It continues to develop these services. Banking can now be carried out by iPhone.

New products have been introduced and some discontinued. The bank no longer offers interest on current accounts. Instead it offers a new “1st Account” that combines a current account and the option of a linked savings account. These allow positive balances on current accounts to be transferred regularly to savings. This means the customer receives a higher rate of interest on money in the savings account.

It has introduced new products to its savings portfolio. These include:

  • Everyday e-Saver accounts customers with a positive savings balance receive a competitive rate of interest
  • Regular Saver accounts these give high interest rates for 1st Account customers. The two new savings products generated 10,862 new accounts on the first day of sales

The bank has also sought to be more competitive on price by reducing the cost for some services. For example, it offers 0% interest on overdrafts up to £250 and provides free text alerts to warn customers if their account is nearing their limit. In addition to the product changes, first direct redesigned the visual elements of the brand. This included the logo, the look and feel of all promotional material as well as the interiors of the call centres.

first direct also reconsidered its promotional mix. Promotion is the means used to inform customers about services and to encourage them to buy products. There are a range of tools that can be used for this purpose.

first direct started by promoting the rebranding to its staff. For the business” 18th birthday celebration, all staff were given birthday gifts themed to demonstrate the relaunch. The gifts included rucksacks, security pass-holders, mouse mats, t-shirts and celebratory champagne and chocolates. This helped to ensure employees were fully aware of the new design and messages and would be able to talk confidently about them to customers.

Above-the-line promotion

Advertising is referred to as above-the-line promotion. This type of promotional activity is usually paid for. To support the relaunch, first direct commissioned:

  • television advertising campaign
  • posters on the London underground
  • branded London taxis, with a free ride if the passenger was a first directcustomer
  • a press campaign, which included advertisements in magazines and newspapers

Below-the-line promotion

Other types of promotional activity are referred to as below-the-line promotion. This type of promotion is more within the business” control and can be more easily measured. These activities used to promote the relaunch included:

  • direct calls to key customers to tell them about what was on offer
  • personalised letters for customers
  • new corporate branding, with a clearly differentiated logo from HSBC
  • good quality information materials

In addition, first direct undertook some public relations (PR) activity. It sent out clearly worded press releases to the media. A DVD was issued to support the relaunch. This was sent out to all stakeholders, that is, everyone with an important interest in the company.

first direct | Using market research to relaunch a brand