Judge and Jury: HSBC needs to be consistent if it wants to be taken seriously - Rebranding Midland Bank to create a more coherent global identity is a perfectly sound PR move, but it only really works if HSBC applies that theory across its whole banking n

During the past six years Midland Bank has been struggling to find a brand image that is modern, positive and reassuring for the customer.

During the past six years Midland Bank has been struggling to find

a brand image that is modern, positive and reassuring for the

customer.



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

planned.



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

important.



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.



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