Ally Bank Attracts Brand Loyalty by Creating Emotion in Emotionless Category

At Ally Bank, officials constantly seek to “raise the bar” to stay ahead of customer expectations by offering new features and products that enhance the overall banking experience and encourage customers to grow their relationship with Ally through additional products and an increased share of wallet.

Customers are embracing the mobile and online channels as their go-to source of information about their accounts, as well as looking for tools to conduct transactions and perform other tasks.

In May 2009, GMAC’s banking unit changed its name to Ally Bank. In May 2010, GMAC re-branded itself as Ally Financial. The company went public in April 2014.

“The world didn’t need another bank,” Ally Financial CMO Andrea Riley said during her session, “Built for CX: The Story of How Ally Bank was Created with the Customer in Mind,” at the 10th annual Loyalty Expo. “It needed a better one. We decided to make a stand on our commitment to customers and put our promise in our name. So, we transformed our banking subsidiary into Ally Bank on three simple principles: Do right, talk straight, and be obviously better. As an online bank without physical branch locations, we were able to offer greater value with consistently competitive rates and convenient around-the-clock support when our customers needed it.”

Ally began in 2008 as a unique financial institution with both an online bank and a deeply rooted auto finance division. The company has evolved since then to become a full-service digital financial services company offering online banking, auto finance, insurance, credit card, digital wealth management, corporate finance, and mortgage offerings.

Present from day one was Andrea Riley, now CMO of Ally.

Staying ahead of customer trends, with a keen eye toward customer engagement and customer loyalty, Ally Bank continues to raise the bar in the customer-centric department, serving as an ‘ally’ to its customers.

Whether customers interact via the customer care center, a website, social media, or through a mobile app, Ally wants customers to have a consistent and unified experience that reflects its promise to be open and straightforward. To ensure it meets those expectations, Ally focuses internally on quality, problem ownership, first contact resolution, and a painless customer experience.

What’s more, Ally collects “voice of the customer” feedback by actively listening and acting upon what customers like, dislike, and want, and evaluate this information to determine how it might improve its products, features, and services.

Riley said that “strong brands reach greatness. We like the position we sit in.”

Pivoting in its communications strategy turned out to be a gold mine for Ally.

“We created emotion in an emotionless category,” Riley explained. “We rebranded the service conversation and embarked on extensive brand work.”

In September 2016, Ally launched its “Do It Right” brand campaign that reflects its focus on doing things right for customers. The campaign was the first-ever unified brand campaign in Ally’s history, bringing together the full scope of the company’s financial services offerings under the “Do It Right” mantra— including its award-winning online bank, auto finance and insurance businesses, digital wealth management and online brokerage platform, and Corporate Finance operation.

Riley said the campaign launch marked an important milestone for Ally because it brought together all its financial services offerings under one unified brand promise that truly reflects the company’s relentless focus on doing things right for its customers.

The “Do It Right” campaign kicked off with a 30-second TV commercial, “Anthem,” which presents a group of associates racing to participate in a team huddle to affirm their commitment to serving customers. The associates are seen leaping over cubicles, running through streets and bursting through the conference room window to be a part of the huddle.

This spot was followed by two others: “Swimming Pool,” which shows an associate slipping into the afterlife to predict the future of his customer, and “Wishing Well” presents a couple on a date and the woman jumps fully clothed into a fountain in an attempt to give the man his coin back.

The “Anthem” team huddle commercial used the song, “Kickstart My Heart,” by Mötley Crüe.

“You have to create that followership and you have to create that emotion,” Riley said. “It (the campaign) created an amazing amount of social interactions. We’re all in for our customers. We grew brand sentiment higher than ever before with four weeks of the spot. It’s a nice way of showing the personality of the brand.”

Another attractive brand incentive the company launched was the Ally Lucky Pennies campaign. The initiative sought to demonstrate the importance of valuing every cent while encouraging Americans to look for opportunities to save. The multi-city search invited people in these cities to be on the lookout for 100 Ally Lucky Pennies, each of which was redeemable for $1,000.

“Knowing our customers and leveraging that data was really important to us,” Riley said. “One size does not fit all. We created personas for our customer base segmented by products. Data makes us smarter. We’ve been able to become extremely efficient. We disrupt the market through content. Disruptive brand content increases conversations. And the impact was felt. We increased brand sentiment from 42 percent to 73 percent. We knew we had to find a better way forward. Make or break. Creating change is difficult.”

Does Riley have any advice for marketers daring to be disruptors?

“You have to be brave,” she said. “You have to sell it consistently and create internal followership. It takes a lot of guts.”

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