Hytner slams Abbey strategy as Barclays rebrand gets under way

Barclays marketing chief Jim Hytner has criticised rival Abbey’s second costly revamp in 19 months as he fires up his own rebranding exercise.

Hytner, who was recruited from his job as head of marketing at ITV last autumn, believes Abbey’s new owner Banco Santander Central Hispano has rushed into a £9m corporate makeover.

In contrast, Hytner says he wants to re-energise Barclays’ image from the “inside out”, with changes to corporate identity, direct marketing and branch literature. He has scrapped the bank’s long-standing “Fluent in Finance” advertising strategy, believing it did not work for the bank’s retail arm and alienated staff and customers.

Changes will also include signage of cash machines and customer service areas to reflect every-day language such as “hole in the wall”. The rebranded Barclays will be launched with a television and press campaign towards the end of this year. Hytner’s new strategy focuses on “emotional” benefits, akin to Tesco’s “Every Little Helps”, to unify the bank’s overall brand. Barclays’ eagle logo will remain.

Hytner, who controls a marketing budget of £350m, says the strategy is not aimed at the so-called “man on the street”. He condemns “lowest common denominator” strategies and accuses rival Halifax of such dumbing-down tactics.

Creative work, by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, will have an emphasis on wit and warmth, he says. Production company BDA will work with Barclays’ branding department on internal communications.

Barclays has this week been given the go-ahead to buy a £2.8bn controlling stake in South African bank Absa.

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