Reverse Gear…

Quick quiz. Which one is the odd one out:

  1. Simpler. Better. Faster.
  2. Inspired. Motivated. Involved.
  3. Moving Forward

If you answered #1, go to the head of the class because of the three, only #1 is a client-facing, tangible brand-promise (Translation: #1 requires that the brand delivers on its promise). The other two are a load of marketing-speak trash.

The three options above mark the (de-)evolution of Standard Bank’s promise to its customers, with option #3 the latest iteration, which was launched late last week.

“Moving Forward” is a load of bollocks. It says nothing because it means nothing. And that suits Standard Bank just fine, because it appears that they don’t want  to promise their customers anything that actually can be measured (like being simpler or faster). Or at least that’s the sense I get from this line.

Standard Bank group brand director Nikki Twomey was quoted as saying: “Financial services advertising throughout the world suffers from a sea of sameness. It is difficult to tell one brand from another. We wanted to create something that was unique, that makes Standard Bank stand out from the clutter.” [Quote from BizCommunity article by Simone Puterman. Linked earlier.]

So here’s a crazy idea: instead of wasting bucketloads of money on a new payoff line (and what looks to be an internal version of Facebook), how about you toddle off and find some real ways of helping your customers get more from their money? Maybe create some actually useful products that pay decent returns? Guaranteed, that will make you stand out.

Oh, wait. You can’t be bothered because that means you’ll have to stand still and listen to your customers, instead of “Moving Forward”.



9 thoughts on “Reverse Gear…

  1. Hi Amod

    Thanks for your valuable comments. Our new Moving Forward campaign has a huge social media aspect and we welcome conversation from our audience.

    We chose ‘Moving Forward’ as our slogan because we felt that it fit in well with our organisation – we try to constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of our customers. If you take a look at the overall creative strategy, ‘Moving Forward’ is the starting point for our campaign, which focuses on making the right connections – an integral part of achieving success not only for our clients, but also for our employees, and ultimately our organisation.

    This is a global campaign, which means while we retain a strong South African focus, we are also working on connecting with Africa and other emerging economies.

    “Moving Forward” is more than a slogan: it encompasses the culture within our company – the common drive among everyone in the organisation to constantly be better and achieve more, that is, to move forward.

    Our internal social networking site, BlueConnection, is an integral part of our global campaign – it’s about making connections, and it’s about communication. With over 50 000 employees around the world, BlueConnection enables cross-border collaboration, encouraging teamwork and communication.

    Engaged employees are valuable employees, and we believe BlueConnection will help us harness the collective knowledge base within the bank – which means we will be a stronger bank and improved products will be developed.

    Thanks again for valuable comments. If you need any further information, please feel free to contact me. You can also visit our blog:, which is constantly updated with information on the campaign.

    • Hi Bellinda

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for stopping by.

      I’m afraid that I don’t share your appraisal of the situation.

      When you guys first moved from “Simpler. Better. Faster.” the reasoning according, to Standard Bank’s group marketing director, Sarah-Anne Orphanides, was “[…] we realised we needed to develop a campaign that was authentic and engaging; a campaign that all our customers, stakeholders and people would be able to identify with.”

      Now you’ve changed gears again, so maybe “Inspired. Motivated. Involved.” wasn’t authentic…or engaging? Because if it was, you would have stuck with it, right?

      And Orphanides wants us to believe that this time “The new creative campaign delivers on the strategy to move our customers and clients forward through making the right connections. This alignment of business strategy and creative approach is what underpins the new Standard Bank pay-off-line of ‘Moving Forward”.

      The question is: with whom are your customers and clients connecting? Each other? Your call-centre’s answering machine? Bank-tellers? People don’t want to connect with a bank. They want a bank that simply works. A bank that answers the phone when they call. A bank that works for them.

      Here’s a tip for free and for nothing: change your office hours to suit your customers – and take the lion’s share of the market, guaranteed. That’s what is known as a sincere, tangible commitment to your clients and customers.

      But you guys don’t really want to change anything …

      So with respect, I don’t care what your payoff-line is…and I wager that there are many out there (possibly even among your existing clients) who feel the same way I do. No amount of marketing speak can make up for a lack of results, value or solid change. It’s not about pretty pictures and snappy words. It’s about sincerity and customer service. It’s about adding REAL value to your customers’ professional relationship with your company.

      And until you guys prove that you get that, you’re just bailing water…

      Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time out to comment. It is appreciated.

      You said earlier: ” ‘Moving Forward’ is more than a slogan: it encompasses the culture within our company – the common drive among everyone in the organisation to constantly be better and achieve more, that is, to move forward.”

      This is just to let you know the fact that you copy/pasted that verbatim from your website doesn’t help your cause whatsoever. ( )

      See what I mean about “marketing speak” and “sincerity”?

  2. Thank you for your comments. You are right about the customer expectations and there is absolutely no argument from us that banks have a long way to go to truly ‘work for them’.

    We agree that there has definitely been a gear change in our payoff lines over time. Our business strategy has evolved significantly from being a purely South African bank to now having representation in 33 countries. Our change in positioning is more about ensuring that we have meaning across all the countries we represent, and not about ‘Inspired. Motivated. Involved.’ not being authentic or engaging. This change is a way of signalling that we are constantly evolving… hopefully for the better.

    It is, and always will remain, our long term-strategy to constantly improve the services we offer and the products we deliver. And again, you are right, no amount of marketing speak, pretty pictures or snappy words can compensate for under-delivery of our core business, which is banking products and services.

    We do not claim to solve all our problems with a new campaign or payoff line. The Moving Forward campaign is simply one of the mechanisms that will help us build excitement and renew focus on making the right connections in every aspect of what we do, whether it be between staff (so we can work more efficiently), between customers and staff (so we can give better service) or between customers themselves (so we can listen, learn and improve).

    We also did not expect our campaign to resonate positively with everyone, but at the very least we hope to connect meaningfully with anyone who wants to have a conversation about it.

    We appreciate your advice about changing office hours. We’ve come a long way in being a 24-hour bank through our various electronic channels and will continue towards making ourselves even more accessible to our market in whatever we do.

    We appreciate your honest feedback.

  3. Hi Bellinda

    Thank you for responding to my comment and for taking the time to address my criticism.

    My question remains: why the need for the new campaign? You don’t need a new campaign to listen to your customers. That’s rule number one of service delivery. Hell, you could have built that on “Inspired. Motivated. Involved.” And you certainly don’t need a new campaign to listen to your own staff (especially if you’re looking for the shortest route to effective innovation). All the new campaign signals is that you guys have suddenly woken up to the fact you haven’t been doing any of these things at all.

    It’s not really about the payoff line or the money invested in the campaign at a time when spending on such sabre-rattling is frowned upon (although those are the visible symptoms). It’s more about why this mindset requires a new campaign for something that should have been inherent to the organisation since inception and should be especially in the current day.

    And that’s why I have a problem with this move on Standard Bank’s part. Fixing these problems starts internally, not with a blow-out marketing campaign. Don’t tell us what you’re going to do. Do it first and let us decide if it’s enough to warrant further business with you.

    So while you’ve presented this ideal of evolving to fix the problems (at least until the next change in positioning), I remain unconvinced of the outcome you’re describing.

    Thanks again for stopping by. Your candour and willingness to join the discussion is appreciated. I look forward to seeing if Standard Bank can live up to the promises it’s made.


  4. it’s all just bollocks. pity all the banks suck

    basically the banks are there to **** you as much as possible and we have no choice but to be *****ed. funny how STD stands for sexually transmitted disease.

    I have had horrendous service from STD bank recently, they can stick their slogan, they don’t care. their slogan is like a rapists smile – not very comforting.


    • Hi.

      Thanks for the (rather angry) comment. In the interests of fair discussion, perhaps you could give us some details of your complaint (without the profanity, of course 🙂 )? And perhaps some details of how you were handled by the bank?

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Great site. I cant get over the online slogan for Stannic. “If its an asset we will finance it” I approached them to finance fine art and they say its not an asset.
    How incredibly stupid of me to think that a car which rusts and depreciates is an asset? And how foward moving of them not to finance art. Maybe they must wonder why their bank has an art gallery in house. Cant possibly be about assets – maybe they just want some pretty pictures.

    • Hi Michael

      Liked your observations. Clearly, Stannic only works with assets where THEY can capitalise – or at least, in which they can see the immediate value (for themselves, of course). But then I guess all banks sadly are like that…

      Thanks for the comment!


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