Rebranding from the inside

Viewpoint: Justin Basini, former head of customer initiative management and brand marketing, Capital One UK.


All the data that I’ve seen shows that marketing and advertising are not trusted at all. This is because most marketing is by definition a biased view of the product.

That external perception gets mirrored internally as well. Marketing people are seen as fluffy shysters who gild the truth, making sure there is more style than substance.

At Capital One, marketers were often seen, perhaps unfairly, as the people who coloured in the envelopes because the main focus of the marketing team was on direct mail.

All the core product and pricing decisions, propositions and marketing channels were decided by analysts. That worked when Capital One was growing strongly, but as consumer behaviour moved much more to price-based comparison, many credit card companies were left with a marketing model that had run out of steam. The winners, including Capital One, altered their focus and started to understand what consumers wanted – we built propositions and campaigns around real consumer needs.

That meant less direct mail, more digital marketing, better propositions with benefits over and above price. Within the company, we took a more integrated approach by creating and marketing products that focused on the consumer and also made money.

Marketing needed to step up by representing and fighting for the consumer, building strong working relationships with the product and risk analysis teams. The challenge was as much about leadership and bravery from the team both within marketing and across the organisation to build on the success of the past while changing key aspects of culture and processes.

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