A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks..

That fine quote came from Mr Jonson – the legend behind the Roaring Girl. It relates to a post I’ve been thinking about for a while, prompted by Amelia’s post, which summed up what I’ve been thinking about brand conversation/s.

I’m going to have to go back on what I posted some months earlier. Not every brand can talk to a consumer. If a brand tries to have a conversation with a customer that doesn’t want to listen/isn’t interested in the first place, I don’t believe it works all the time. I’m less than convinced by the recent HSBC campaign, for example.

It’s a strategy (‘what’s your point of view’, or in other words what they believe to be a natural extension of ‘the world’s local bank’ – something which I felt resonated far more strongly with the consumer, getting to the heart of why people bank) which seems far more at home with the likes of The Independent or the Guardian rather than a global bank.

However, make it more pally, akin to the Barclay’s campaign which Amelia refers to in her post, and it doesn’t seem to work either. The bank ‘voice’ just either seems like mindless babble in the case of the latter – and God knows, I don’t trust a bank which is staffed by muppets – or overly detached from cold hard finance. Perhaps staffed by philosophers? Hard core thinking about David Hume or Sartre won’t make my money work harder, damnit…

Although, in this instance, I understand why the point of view campaign was adopted. As a campaign idea, it can be translated into millions of executions worldwide without losing its central message – that everyone will take a different approach to life, but attitudes towards finance remain unchanging.

On the bank thinking, perhaps that’s why the Halifax campaign works so well – it’s entertaining, and yet you still know it’s about a bank. Albeit with employees who will undoubtedly be on Pop Idol in the next edition. But they certainly will care about giving you extra. It also echoes my thoughts about jingles.

‘Matey’/’Chatty’ tones work for Nuts, for WKD, for Innocent. Brands which the consumer feels can talk with. Crucially, they also OFFER something and are genuine about what it is. I get the impression with HSBC or Barclays, the consumer reaction will be ‘Oh…’ and promptly forget the ad, or distrust it.

Perhaps one of the reasons why brands have a seemingly endless room for discussion is that a myriad of positions seem to be able to adopted; yet those which get it so right or forge new territory often seem so obvious and straightforward.

It’s why I was such a fan of ‘the world’s local bank’. It implicitly said ‘yes, we understand people are different, and we understand these differences and can help’, rather than opening the debate up farther.

Perhaps in 20 years time there will come a bank which will be so societally relevant that people will get conversational tactics. Perhaps, but I doubt it. Speak to me like a bank, and I’ll listen.

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