HSBC set for exit from the High Street as consumer perceptions slump

The battered HSBC brand will soon disappear from the high street, a move that could prove a good idea according to the latest brand tracking data.

HSBC unveiled plans today to “reshape its business”, including the loss of 8,000 jobs, plans to close 12% of branches and the move of its London HQ to Birmingham. At an investor day this morning (9 June) HSBC’s CEO Stuart Gulliver also said the bank would changed the name of its branch network once it has been separated from its global operations.

HSBC is yet to decide what the new brand will look like, although rumours abound that it could revive the Midland Bank brand or take its online bank First Direct onto the high street.

“We will operate with a different brand name, we haven’t decided what it is, we’re going to consult with customers and staff,” he said, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

Battered brand

Getting rid of the battered HSBC brand could be a good idea as the bank attempts to signal a break with the past. The bank has come under attack in recent months over allegations that its Swiss arm helped wealthy clients evade tax.

It has also been hit by multimillion pound fines for mis-selling retail products and for Libor rate-fixing. Attempts to rebuild perceptions through marketing appear not to have worked.

According to YouGov’s Brand Index, HSBC sits at or near the bottom of a list of 28 high street banking brands across a range of metrics. Over the past year its overall index score, a measure of a range of consumer perception factors including quality, value and impression, has fallen by a statistically significant 6.4 points to -5.4.

That puts it 27th on the list, ahead of just Royal Bank of Scotland. In terms of buzz, a measure of the positive and negative things said about a brand, it has fallen by 13.4 points over the past year to -15.3, putting it at the bottom of the list.

Millward Brown’s BrandZ study also suggests HSBC’s brand has had a hard time of it over the past year. Its position in the list fell from 28 in 2014 to 35 last year. It reached a high of 23rd in 2010.

The First Direct brand


Replacing HSBC with First Direct could also make sense. The online bank is ranked highly among consumers, coming in seventh in a list of 40 card, loan and building society brands in terms of brand index with a score of 8.4.

Its buzz ranking sits at 3.4, putting it in fourth position behind PayPal, Nationwide and Visa.