Marketing strategies in the banking sector

Promotion and marketing in general is a big part of any bank of financial institution. They rely on their promotional material in order to sustain their reputation, which to a bank is everything. This comes through in many ways, especially when dealing with financial and insurance policies. They take special care when creating graphs, logos and other visualizations.

Not only is the information supposed to reassure the potential customer, the content, layout and colours are also supposed to illicit trust and loyalty. Slogans, branding and campaign advertising is often very conservative and well thought out so that they do not damage their trustworthiness. Getting the business of younger people and younger urban executives is now a more competitive business, as they know that people tend to stick with one bank once they have settled on their choice.

An analysis of banking colours

This choice of logo, branding and promotional colours seem to be fairly uniform when it comes to French banks. Blue, red and green are often seen, indicating that those colours help convey a value. Blue may be seen with Banque Populaire, La Banque Postale, LCL, Crédit du Nord, Crédit Agricole, and CIC. The colour red is seen with HSBC, Societe Generale, and Caisse d'Epargne. Green is seen with credit Agricole, BNP Paribas and CIC. You may also notice how black is often seen within their brand literature and typography.


The meanings behind different colour usage

These colours are meant reassuring, thoughtful and reliable, with the possible exception of red. In the west, red symbolizes power, danger and firepower, whereas in the east it is a lucky colour. Black on the other hand may be interpreted as ambivalent. Black is a symbol of luxury, but since the global economic downturn, it is also one of austerity. This may be why the logo for the Société Générale is very striking since it transmits a message of austerity and power.

Banking that is suitable for all

Banque Postale and LCL both use a combination of yellow and blue logos and branding colours, which are unlike most banks. It is plausible to assume that they have done this to show that their banking services are available for all. Blue is often associated with trust, whilst yellow is associated with happiness and acceptance.

Banking based on perception

The trust you have in your bank is all based on perception, as is the idea that one colour means something, which is best shown by the vast difference between what red means in Anglo-Saxon countries and what it means in China.


ING Direct use their initials and the image of a lion, which is fairly unusual for a bank. The lion obviously represents power and respect, but few banks have logo images and initials side-by-side. Visual images that go beyond text or initials are not uncommon if you look at different banks around the world. In the fight for marketing superiority, they are often willing to leverage every opportunity they can find, which includes the use of graphic symbols.


Symbols being used in logos

The four stars of BNP Paribas symbolize the values or the ‌‌"pillars" of the bank, which are: commitment, ambition, creativity and responsiveness. Caisse d'Epargne use a squirrel that is built into its initials within the logo. The squirrel is often associated with the idea of saving, as many children’s stories talk about how the squirrel saves his nuts for the winter.

Is visual identity a tool powerful enough within a consumer-oriented strategy?

The global economic crisis was caused by banks, meaning that the cute gift-wrapping is not enough any more. People are not very forgiving given the fact that banks have helped to bankrupt countries, put billions out of jobs, and have needed government bailouts with taxpayer money. This may be why banks are trying to create the image that they are on the consumers’ side, and why some have even started using celebrity figures to promote their banks and banking services.