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Remarkable Brands Begin with Remarkable People

I recently switched banks. Boring, I know. But hang with me, I promise this story is anything but boring.

A couple weeks ago I sat in on one of Mack Collier’s #rockstarchat sessions on Twitter. The discussion was centered around connecting with brand advocates. At one point in the conversation, a participant made a comment along the lines of (and I paraphrase), “There are just some easy markets, like pets and nonprofits, in which connecting with people is easy. Then there are bad ones like real estate and banking.”

Had I not just experienced what am I about to share, I might have been inclined to agree. Thanks to a new bank named Simple, however, I had a prime example proving the point that there is no such thing as a “bad” industry. When your brand is brave enough to think about a challenge or traditional industry in new and innovative ways, it becomes possible to reach people in new and better ways. And in the process of doing so, it’s possible you might just spark a love connection.

This is one such story.

The day I became a Simple customer, I came across a pretty big talking customer service manifesto. Alongside statements like, “We’re serious about good service,” I found a little blurb that basically welcomed customers to “go ahead and contact us whenever about whatever. Even if you just want to say hello.”

“I will accept your customer service challenge,” I thought to myself, “I will email you just to say hello.” So I did. And this is what happened.

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Much to my surprise, a short while later I received this response from my new bank friend, Ryan O.

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And then I said…

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Which is when I met my new friend Bruke…

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So naturally I did what any person would do…

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To which I received this gif as a response…

A couple weeks later, an envelope arrived in the mail from Simple. The contents of which included…

narwhal unicorn

SO, WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THIS AMAZING ENCOUNTER?

1. Your brand is only as good as your people.
Your company will not only live and die by your people, but will also thrive because of them. Using the simple laws of attraction, we can deduce that if you develop a solid business plan you’ll build a solidly awesome company which will attract amazingly wonderful people. Good draws good. Great draws great.

2. Give your people permission to be awesome.
I’m willing to bet that Simple never covered “proper use of to use How I Met Your Mother gifs in customer service conversations,” but there you have it. Hire people you trust. Hire people who get your brand. Then give them permission and freedom to love it, represent it and make it their own. Because in making it their own, they’re making it awesome for your customer.

3. A little real human goes a long way.
Sure, I recognize the irony  of my ways. I’m averse to real banks because I don’t want to deal with a real person. (Truth: the day photo deposit was born I threw a mini-celebration.) Now I’m singing the praises of a brand that uses an technology to connect you with a real human.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I didn’t like going into real banks because so often the people working there are lukewarm at best. Even at their speediest, our interactions typically feel just like a business transaction and nothing more. My interactions with Simple have been a series of fun, quirky, personal moments of human engagement. And that has made all the difference.

4. “The way it has always been” is not always the best way.
Sometimes it’s not even a good way. Operating within a traditional industry is not a brand death sentence. It’s an opportunity. But in order to be exceptional, you’ve got to muster the courage to take a risk, rock the boat and proudly fly your freak flag. Nothing remarkable and talkable was ever accomplished by doing more of the same. People may raise an eyebrow. People may turn up their nose. But if you lead with your WHY – and if you let your people be the heart of your brand – you’re going to connect with people who not only get your brand, but love you for who and why you are.

Wherever you are, Ryan O. and Bruke, I hope you’re enjoying a Pine State Biscuit. Thanks for being awesome. This Monday morning song goes out to you.

  • Brandy Dressen

    I now want to bank there. Or at least be friends with the people who work there. Or both.

    • Amy

      Me, too, Brandy!

  • Cris Hay-Merchant

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing and highlighting these interactions. They’re an excellent inspiration for all of us.

    • Amy

      Thanks, Cris! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com/ Ricardo Bueno

    Reading this with a HUGE smile on my face! That is so awesome … I like that a brand can take a moment to really inject some personality into their interactions with customers. To me, that sort of thing matters. And it goes a long way.

    • Amy

      I couldn’t agree more, Ricardo! Never in a million years would I expect it from a BANK. Being on the receiving end of this has been an amazing experience as a customer AND as a marketer!

  • Kseniya Martin

    I’m smiling so hard right now, thanks for sharing!

    • Amy

      You’re so welcome, Kseniya! Thanks for taking time to chime in. :)

  • Julie

    I rarely comment on blogs, but this is Awesome! Way to go, Simple!

    • Amy

      Well, Julie, I am honored. Thank you for swinging by and chiming in. :)

  • Slapshot Studio

    That’s fantastic… great post… there really are good people…lol

  • http://www.annbevans.com/ Ann Bevans

    I love love love this post! Not only did they live up to their promise, but they did it so well you felt compelled to tell a story about it. I hope Simple is sharing this goodness far and wide. I know I am.

    • Amy

      Thanks, Ann! Simple has been wonderful. And not just because I wrote a post about them. I recently had to call them about a charge on my card… no complicated menus to go through. Just a greeting and you are transferred directly to a REAL and NICE human who promptly resolves the problem. It was amaaaaazing.

      • http://www.annbevans.com/ Ann Bevans

        Indeed! I hope more companies will follow suit.

  • http://about.me/jkozuch Justin Kozuch

    Great post, Amy. I love hearing stories like this.

    I recently started a new job (yesterday, in fact) and I sent this to my team. There’s definitely a few good lessons to learn here.

    We’re in the financial services industry (insurance quote comparison) which is not often a very sexy industry. I hope that we can apply this same of thinking to not just our customers, but how we help them get the products they need, when they need them in a way that revolutionizes and transforms the traditional experience people have when looking for insurance.

    • Amy

      Congratulations on the new job, Justin! I’m happy to hear there are progressive thinkers like you taking on the challenge of traditional industry. That’s EXACTLY what they need. I have never really given much thought to banking (let along felt passionately excited about it), but through their way of doing business, Simple has inspired me to fall in love with what they do and how we are not able to do it together!

      Can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your “smartketing” sleeve. :)

      • http://about.me/jkozuch Justin Kozuch

        Thanks! I hope that we can apply some progressive thinking to our business, but I also understand that there are challenges in terms of changing how people think. Fortunately, we’re in a good position to start thinking outside the deposit box (see what I did there?) and apply some of that progressive thinking to how we build brand awareness.

        Also… I love the “smartketing” term you’ve coined. I’m totally using/stealing that.

  • Michael Donovan

    Amazing story. Finally, someone had the “stones” to make it authentic, genuine, real. OMG that means that someday the cubicle workers of the world might be able to put their piercings back in and show their tattoos. I am going to track down your bank and become a Simpleton too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amy

      Michael,

      I hope you will be just as happy with them as I have been. And just for the record, I would always choose to do traditional business with companies who have “stones.” Long live the piercing and tattoos! :)

      • Michael Donovan

        That, Amy, is because your BRAIN IS ON FIRE and I really like that about you!

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