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SNS Bank Growing pains The winning formula therefore, so felt SNS Bank, lay in becoming more transpa­

Of garden gates
Childhood is said to be the happiest period in one’s life. Build­ rent, accessible and more personal. SNS Bank had a new calling: they would
ing empires of sand with castles that reach up into the clouds. create a bank non-existent at the time to help people organise their bank matters
Taking strolls to the edge of the world by the compost heap at themselves. The resulting three core brand values were: accessible, personal and
the end of the garden. Amy, who is two years older than you innovative. It also designed a new kaleidoscope logo and introduced a new tagline
and lives next door, suddenly running up to you and giving you that, from the Dutch, translates roughly as: ‘There’s always another way’
CEO Rien Hinssen | Number of employees 3500 | Company a peck on the cheek, which you won’t wash for the next three
income e768m | Brand values personal, accessible, innovative | weeks, despite vocal protests from your mother. Of course, words come easy. But how do you translate them into action? What
Brand promise ‘There’s always another way’ | Target group about marketing? Organisational issues? Communications? And, of course, it has
Communications target group ages 20–49 | Primary adverti­ Nature, on the other hand, has other things in store for you an effect on product range. Clear communications was needed, to the staff to start
sing media radio and online of which you are blissfully unaware. Until one day, it starts with as, to coin a cliché, staff are a company’s main asset.
to happen. The sandpit is just sand, there’s a gate behind the
compost and Amy is actually a bit of a bore. You’re growing up. Time to rock and roll

You need a new identity. And you want more out of life. You’ve As everyone knows, it’s standard practice to introduce your new positioning to
got to make it through the gate. your staff by giving a party. You invite everyone to attend and to dress entirely in
white and then you tell them that everything is going to change. Before you get
What, however, if you’re not a child, but actually a bank whose the wrong idea, it wasn’t the Directors’ intention to ensure everyone was inebriat­
foundations were laid before Queen Victoria was a twinkle in ed when they found out. Rather, it was felt that, change would have to come from
her daddy’s eye? What if it’s not sandcastles that are starting to within and that only with the staff’s understanding and support would matters
seem a little tedious, but rather the fact that you offer mainly be able to move forwards. It was a resounding success and, passing out t-shirts
just savings accounts? And what if it’s not the gate at the end of to staff with the new kaleidoscope logo and phrases such as ‘Dude’ or ‘Babe’, it
the garden but the Randstad, the most competitive area in the struck a chord with the younger staff who left feeling they were part of a hip or­

CoolbrandS: Inge in discussion with Jan Willem Dreteler

country, which you have to enter if you want more? ganisation.

Well. You see what you have to build on. You look around you. Once the staff was aware of the changes, it was time for the markets. With much

You listen closely. And then you make your move. SNS Bank market research in the bag, the flexibility of being a small organisation and new
style. Which is as follows… brand values to work with, it created products that are unique to the Dutch mar­
ket. For example, it offers a mortgage that allows clients to choose between extras
Towards the unknown or discounts. It offers Live@dvies, mortgage advice whereby within 5 minutes you
Back in 2001/2002, when it was decided that the discovery of can have a ‘live’ discussion with a mortgage advisor on your computer screen and
new territory was definitely going to happen, there was a name it has vastly lowered the threshold for asset management so that it is accessible
for the bank, but no real image. As mentioned, the bank had a to a far greater target group. One of the major achievements of late was winning
long history of offering savings accounts, but this no longer of­ the European Mortgage Product of the Year award, a prize by the EFMA.
fered the satisfaction it once did. There was no clear mission,
nobody was sure who SNS Bank actually was or what they stood Friends, colleagues, countrymen, lend me your ears
for. Its client base was too small as it was primarily a regional With new products and the support of its staff, it has also focused on an entirely
bank. So how do you enter the lion’s den, the Randstad, without new approach to its advertising campaigns with innovation as a driver. They seek
the necessary support? out striking and, of course, effective ways of reaching their target groups. The
abovementioned Live@dvies was brought to the attention of a growing group of
You reorient yourself, and see what you have. They asked them­ people through ‘mouth-to-mouth’ advertisement with a group of internet fans.
selves what their strengths were, which they saw as follows:
they could look after themselves, they were not overly large Yet its campaigns are not just there to promote its products. The company claims
and were therefore more manoeuvrable and flexible, they were a responsibility towards society. At the end of 2004, it introduced a ‘Stop Smok­
strong in IT, innovative and people saw them as being friendly ing’ savings plan and, when in 2005 society seemed to be growing harder, it in­
and Dutch. troduced campaigns in line with ‘What about this way?’ in which a Goth cuddles
a woman in a suit.
Market research showed a growing feeling of individual needs,
the demand for personal recognition and the need to be spo­ Much has already happened within SNS Bank yet there is still a long way to go be­
ken to as individuals, not numbers. Consumers were gaining in fore it really joins the big boys. Nevertheless, one thing is sure, they are well and
power, becoming more verbal and were better informed. truly through the garden gate and in amongst it. Keep an eye on them. They’re