Hamilton helps Santander to ditch UK banking brands

Santander’s decision to rename all of its UK brands appears well timed as new data reveals that public perception of the brand is currently riding high.

The Spanish banking group announced last week that all Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley savings business and branches will be rebranded and refurbished by the end of 2010.

The decision to rebrand under the Santander name comes as its “Buzz”, YouGov’s measure of whether people have heard negative or positive things about a brand, climbed to a three-month high of 4 last week.

As Santander’s stock rises, perception of some of those to be rebranded is on the slide. Bradford & Bingley’s Buzz fell to -8 last week from a three-month high of -2 on May 14.

Abbey, which will be the first to rebrand when its credit cards are renamed this month, saw its Buzz fall to -4 last month from 0 in the middle of May.

Alliance & Leicester, which Santander bought last year in a £1.3bn deal, was the only brand that saw improved Buzz, rising to 2 by the end of last week from 0 at the start of the month.

Santander was quick to stress last week that its three-year campaign starring Lewis Hamilton has been slowly building recognition in the UK, which it says has risen from 20% to 82% over that time.

Will Goodhand, director at Ipsos ASI, says this “slower courtship” approach could prove to be a clever move. “One might also speculate that the gradual approach to rebranding that Santander has been adopting is perhaps consistent with the solidity, safety, soundness and confidence that consumers look for in a bank, especially in these difficult times,” he says.

He adds that research conducted by Ipsos found the financial stability of a bank was the most important factor when choosing a financial services brand, with 89% of consumers citing this as the primary reason behind their decision.

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