Santander wants to make its purpose ‘more tangible’ as it shifts brand positioning

Santander is moving away from talking about prosperity in its advertising to instead focus on what’s possible as it looks to differentiate from competitors and make its purpose “less nebulous”.

Santander is shifting its brand positioning to focus on what’s possible rather than prosperity as it looks to differentiate from competitors and make it clearer how the bank is helping its customers.

A new marketing campaign, launching today (3 June), moves Santander on from its ‘Here to help you prosper’ messaging in favour of ‘See what’s possible’. Created by Engine, it moves Santander’s creative idea on from the sports stars such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jenson Button that have appeared in its ads before to a new approach with Ant and Dec.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Santander’s CMO Keith Moor, explains that while it has been important for the bank to talk about its purpose publicly, it now needs to make the idea of prosperity “more tangible” to people.

“We’ve very public about our purpose, which is to help people and businesses prosper, but we needed to make this more tangible. It’s a big space to own, and a lot of our competition are in this space – Lloyds talks about helping Britain prosper and HSBC isn’t very far from this space either,” he says.

“It’s a bit more nebulous when you talk about a higher order [concept] like prosperity. But when you say, ‘what can I do today to help make things a bit more possible for you?’, whether that’s buying a house or helping with savings, it brings it to life more for our customers in a more tangible way.”

The TV spot, which first airs tonight, shows Ant and Dec setting up their own bank, Antandec. It bears a “spooky resemblance” to another bank already on the market but has some novel solutions to customer issues.

For example, in the first ad Ant and Dec reveal plans to launch tiny Antandec coffee shops in their branches so customers can save money on their daily caffeine fix to put towards paying off their mortgage sooner. Santander, in comparison, has a more sensible solution: a mortgage overpayment calculator.

“The Ant and Dec thing allows us to bring real insights to life,” says Moor. “The insights they uncover are the same ones Santander has uncovered, it’s just they have some more crazy ideas about what to do and we’ve got some more tangible, actionable ideas.”

For the first time, Santander is launching the campaign on social media first so that staff can take ownership of the idea. It hosted a series of roadshows led by UK CEO Nathan Bostock through May to communicate to its people the new brand messaging and how it will play into their roles.

The idea is that the message is not just something Santander talks about in its advertising, but is reflected in the customer experience online, in-store and on the phone, as well as in its products and services.

“The campaign is not the only thing but we wanted to make a statement to our staff as well as our customers. Doing that with a big new partnership and campaign, some really iconic ambassadors, is a way of signalling intent,” explains Moor.

Santander and Engine had a much shorter period than normal to pull this campaign together, meaning the two had to work very closely with one another to ensure it launched on time. That meant holding working sessions every two days and that a more traditional agency and client funnel was bypassed in favour of agile working that brought the creatives and team at Santander much closer together.

“I’m a big believer in building strong partnerships, getting people to own problems together. This was a big problem we had, and it was ‘how can we reinvigorate our positioning’, how can we make a statement together,” he says.

The Santander brand is in a good position, with YouGov BrandIndex showing that consumer perceptions of the bank. For example, on quality it is second behind just Nationwide with a score of 14.4 and it scores well on value, consideration and purchase content.

Nevertheless, Moor wants to see an upward tick in Net Promoter Scores, as well as on awareness, consideration, preference and affinity. It will also be monitoring reaction to the campaign on social media both among staff and customers.

“We have a generally not bad reputation for a bank and we want to build on that and push it onto the next level,” he says. “We’ve set ourselves some hard-to-achieve measures because we want to make a stepchange in how people perceive the brand.”

Moor is due to leave Santander for a new role leading marketing at Camelot in the coming months. So he is also hoping this campaign will leave the company in a good place for his team and successor.

“I wanted to leave the business with a fantastic creative platform and strategy for the next couple of years,” he concludes. “It’s all about leaving the business in the best possible shape from a marketing point of view that I can.”

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