During the past six years Midland Bank has been struggling to find
a brand image that is modern, positive and reassuring for the
Five years and three costly makeovers later, Midland will be changing
its identity to that of its parent company HSBC.
It’s a global change with HSBC Holdings plc announcing that all of its
units will be brought under the one brand.
The order and timing of the announcement on 27 November seemed well
With some notice of the latest changes provided by the press coverage
and advertising campaign, HSBC seeded interest and curiosity and,
consequently, customers receiving the explanatory letter from Midland
may be more inclined to actually read the information and learn about
the ensuing changes.
However, customers were not notified of the change before the
announcement of the rebranding to the press. To some customers this is
clearly alienating, as their interests are perceived to be second to
those of the financial community.
Until now, Midland customers have not fully recognised the benefits of
its association with HSBC. While the announcement of the name change has
been clearly communicated to the public, it is surprising that this is
the sole focus of the campaign. There are other customer concerns which
HSBC’s public relations campaign fails to address.
The move away from what was essentially a community bank to a global
operation could lead people to believe that Midland Bank was becoming
further dehumanised and that their individual custom was even less
It is the here and now that most people are concerned with - details
which affect their everyday life.
For most people in Britain, globalisation is a concept they do not
really understand. A consumer-friendly PR campaign addressing everyday
concerns should have been run in conjunction with the financial
campaign, providing greater reassurance to Midland’s 4.7 million
customers. The end result of the rebranding is that customers should be
in for a positive change to their banking. However, if HSBC feels there
is no need to change First Direct’s name as well, it leaves you
wondering exactly what this says about Midland.