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The Naming Group specializes in the financial category. Our team has led numerous naming strategy and name development engagements with brands like Chase, and Dow Jones.

To us, the world of banking, credit, and investing is one of the most opportune spaces for naming innovation. Because of the complicated relationships people have with money, most financial institutions have long defaulted to safe, common language. But our collective understanding of finances is shifting, creating a new directive for banks to communicate in vibrant new ways. Naming plays a vital role in this process: a first step in catalyzing broader brand evolution. We help brands realize that opportunity. And, for banks, it starts with an appreciation of some key tenets:

Banks have for decades tried to put on a friendly face and depict ease, simplicity, bright financial futures, and happy customers to contrast the dry percentages and transactions they sell. But the parity and the clichéd repetition that's kept stock photographers in business spills over to naming, where disproportionately few creative leaps are taken throughout the financial category, and few companies use the names of their offerings to fuel distinctive brand personality. The result: we are losing interest in the sea of sameness – and feel less responsive to once-compelling messages. There's a huge opportunity to use language that breaks conventions and tells new stories that actually spark interest in a snoozing consumer base.

Financial language is dense and doesn't come easily to most. So to illuminate nuanced features, banks rely on the same, safe, familiar wording: reluctant to invest in creating new language that will inspire interest, encourage learning, and ultimately do more for understanding of the brand that invented it. And because there aren't many synonyms within the vernacular…not many ways to say "mortgage" without the word "mortgage"…we're stuck in a rut. The mistake: assuming that a descriptive name is easier to market – when, in fact, it is easiest to ignore, and forget.

In a world forever notorious for hidden fees, fine print, and confusing jargon, recent economic events have done little to help financial institutions' trustworthiness in the collective consumer psyche.  And yet few banks have successfully answered to these fears in the way they present themselves; clarity, transparency, and personable brand voices – especially as they extend to names – are scarce in this space.

Consumers want to know that their money is safe and sound with a trustworthy institution – even more so as they access balances on their phones, trade equities from hotel rooms, and fear the next financial downturn. This has long manifested in staid, conservative language that reinforces a notion of time-tested, conservative financial values. The mistake: there are other ways to reassure customers than to remind them of their grandparents.

That's right, people want it all...their money locked in the strongest, thickest vault – but also available instantaneously: nimble, accessible, movable. The intersection of both lies in clarity: an honest and simple approach to talking about where the money is, how to protect it, and how to get it when needed. Names play a vital role in creating this clarity. In the way they're organized, and in how they illuminate every product or service. With the right vision, names can make everything easier.

At different life stages, different wealth levels, and with different priorities, financial customers need a range of options from their banks. Clarifying these options has long been a weak point for banks, which routinely embrace hackneyed distinctions that barely clarify anything – and provide no compelling or motivating reason to reach for the next tier. Silver, Gold and Platinum. Access, Value, Preferred, Advantage, Performance… do these words mean anything anymore? A strong namescape strategy is a great way to clarify offerings, inspire cross-sells and up-sells, and to do so in a way that reinforces compelling brand personality.

There's a shifting paradigm in the financial category as brands like Mint, LevelUp, Groupon, Square, banks like Ally, ING, Umpqua, and yes, SmartyPig are leading a transition toward more casual (and digitized) relationships with our wallets. Though banking is likely to be one of the last spaces the average consumer feels comfortable merging within a more social context, these shifts are becoming more and more imminent. The banks that have embraced the brighter voice of a social world will fare best in our increasingly personality-driven society. A society where we entrust our retirements with "Chuck."  

Banks must evolve to keep up with changing tastes and expectations, and we help clients determine the best-fit naming direction to suit every individual brand. And because naming is often the first touch point – and sets a precedent for the brand experiences that follow – it's a prime opportunity for banks to start articulating their offerings in brighter ways.

Get started with The Naming Group: Contact Us


Relevant Resources

Bank Marketing Magazine Article: “Don't Give Your Products a Bad Name” - published in ABA Bank Marketing Magazine, Oct 2012

Show, Don’t Tell

Whitepaper: Suggestive Names – Debunking the Myth that Descriptive=Easier

Whitepaper: Mind the Namescape

Whitepaper: Brandwide Naming Guidelines