Alongside consultant Michael Wolff, NB we were asked to discover what made this bank different. It had already been given the English name ‘Life’ by another Western branding consultancy, but to a Russian speaker, ‘life’ is a meaningless phonetic sound. The branches of the Bank resembled Job Centers, with low-cost interiors, slightly slippery floors and no toilets. It needed to become visibly different from its competitors.
Through research it was clear that the Management wanted it to be more sympathetic. Their customers can get a loan within an hour, which is unheard of in Russian banking. Qualification for a loan is decided upon by female credit managers in each branch. They listen to why each customer wants to take out a loan, assess their means, and decide whether or not to give them money.
What we did
We chose a very familiar Russian word, pyjom – meaning ‘let’s go’ which expressed the ‘let’s do it’ sentiment the Bank wanted to convey to it’s customers. We did not want to provide a slick and conventional Western face-lift. The bank was going to be an authentic expression of everything Russians want an authentic Russian bank to be.
How we did it
Translating this strategy into reality meant referencing traditional Russian techniques and applying them in a modern and appropriate way.
We worked in close collaboration with a number of other external consultants, interior designers Urban Salon, customer journey experts Quickheart, copywriters, translators, illustrators and sign makers to create a rich new customer experience.
An illustrated cat was introduced as both a familiar domestic reference and to create a warm, friendly face to help relax customers during those awkward ‘money’ conversations. The cat chases a ball across the screen, guides you towards the door and relaxes on the projecting sign.
Russian murals were hand-painted directly onto the walls of the bank’s branches and the cat was subsequently woven into an authentic Russian lace pattern, used as printed table cloths and window decoration. Photography is of real customers in their home or place of work and the bank’s leaflets are all short stories about customer experiences.
The bank’s interiors are a welcoming and homely place in the cold Russian winters, with tea served from samovars (tea-urns) around a table more akin to a kitchen than the typical Russian Bank.