What is the value of a bank's brand? Whether you are planning to buy another bank or put your own financial institution on the market, the first step is to evaluate the bank's brand to determine its value as well as its potential, from a marketing perspective, for growth.

Author:Karfakis, Amanda

YOU'VE CAREFULLY MONITORED THE NATIONAL BANK CONSOLIDATION TREND. You've got your eye on another bank that's a candidate for acquisition by your bank.

Now it's time to dig deeper and get a handle on the other bank's brand. What's the bank's reputation? How do people feel about the bank's customer service? What's the bank doing to set itself apart from competitors? These are just some of the questions you should be asking to better understand the bank's position and how much (or little) value its brand will bring to the acquisition deal.

When you're doing this type of preliminary evaluation, here are four key things to consider:

  1. Brand Awareness and Perception

    Two baseline elements to evaluate are the bank's existing brand awareness and perception. Have people heard of the bank? What's their perception of it? Would they refer the bank to a friend?

    A bank that is well known and has a positive reputation is better positioned for acquisition. Why? Because when a bank has invested heavily in its own brand, it has made a definitive commitment to improving the quality of its customer service, reputation management and competitive advantage. Generally speaking, a well-branded bank also has a higher perceived value among customers and it attracts better customers.

    One simple way to evaluate a bank's brand awareness and perception is by performing an online audit. If the bank has an ongoing public relations program in place they should have a number of online press releases, articles and other content that will help you get a handle on their public image. You can use a number of channels to do this research easily:

    * Search engines. First, run a simple search using any major search engine. Search for recently published articles that mention the bank. Look to see how many articles have been published about the bank, how frequently those articles are being published and the nature of the articles. Be on the lookout for any major crises that the bank has recently dealt with.

    * Online newsroom. Visit the bank's online newsroom to see if it is regularly updated with current and relevant content about the bank and its spokespeople. Is the bank regularly and consistently publishing its own press releases? Banks that have gone the extra mile to build awareness and shape perception may have a more robust newsroom that includes elements such as company fact sheets, to provide the public and the media with critical information about the bank's brand; an image gallery, with photos of its executives, company logos and locations for the media to use; and media statements, to further develop its relationships with members of the press.

    Union Bank's newsroom (www.unionbank.com/global/about/newsroom/index.jsp) is a good example. It features a "Press Releases" section with its own published news; an "In the News" section, featuring news coverage about...

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