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VOL. 10 | NO. 23 | Saturday, June 3, 2017

Memphis Banks Build Brand Awareness Via Marketing, Community Investments

By Michael Waddell

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As a complement to traditional advertising, one way banks like Regions Bank, First Tennessee Bank and Pinnacle Financial Partners promote their brands in the local community is by spreading money around to everything from charitable causes to putting their name and logos on buildings and events.

Banks’ branding efforts run the gamut, from more traditional marketing techniques – such as these Regions Bank-branded piggy banks and bottles – to sponsorships, community partnerships and digital outreach.  (Submitted)

With the rise of the digital realm, those branding techniques have become more varied than in years past.

“We use a decent arsenal of brand and advertising techniques that range from traditional advertising – like TV radio, print, direct mail – and digital, including paid ads on social media like Facebook and Instagram,” said Aaron Chestnut, chief marketing officer for First Tennessee Bank. “We also have sponsorships in place. We are the official bank of the University of Memphis athletics and the Memphis Redbirds.”

For example, at AutoZone Park – where the Redbirds play – the First Tennessee logo is embedded in scoreboard screen messaging, and the bank gets hosting opportunities for its clients with tickets and stadium suite.

Over the past eight years, Chestnut sees much more brand building going the way of digital, including alternatives like email, direct mail, Pandora and Hulu.

“There are more elements in medium mix than ever before, and we’re constantly measuring and optimizing through research and analytics where we are in that overall mix,” he said. “Also, we believe our people are the face of our brand, and culturally we believe in being actively involved in the communities we serve so our brand gets out there through our volunteerism and by being on nonprofit boards.

“When we’re volunteering, participating or giving through our First Tennessee Foundation, it integrates on a personal level into the communities we serve. A strong community is good for business.”

For the past two years, the bank’s FTB Advisors subsidiary has been a sponsor of the Jockeys & Juleps Derby Party at the Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy, and it also maintained a sponsorship with the Memphis Open. Financial planning seminars with guest speakers have been another way the brand has raised awareness in recent years.

Regions Bank, likewise, uses a variety of technologies to spread their message in the Memphis market.

“Now more than ever, we have to use a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy,” said David May, Regions area president for West Tennessee. “I think the community has seen how efforts to reach consumers have become more comprehensive and strategic across a variety of platforms in recent years. Along with our more traditional marketing, we use social media to share messages with people in certain parts of the country, and we turn to blogs to highlight our modern, new branches here in Memphis.”

Regions’ signature LifeGreen bicycle is used on local news spots, showing how one of its customers used the expertise of a Regions banker to take her next step toward achieving her financial goals.

“The ways people consume information, share information and make informed decisions today are greatly different than they were 10 years ago,” May said. “So the biggest change is an evolution of strategy. We connect with our customers in more places than ever before. Yes, they are still watching television, listening to the radio and reading the news, so we still turn to those forms of media to share our message. At the same time, people are increasingly using mobile phones, tablets and computers at all times of day. So we meet them there, too.”

Regions works closely with and provides charitable donations to groups like the United Way to help fight poverty, and it provides financial education through Project HOME (Home Ownership Made Easier) in partnership with the Shelby County Trustee’s Office, which aims to help families stay in their homes by strengthening their budgeting skills and learning more about the value of good credit.

The bank also focuses more on grassroots marketing efforts through new branding components, like its SAVE Brigade and bike brigades.

Pinnacle Financial Partners, meanwhile, does not do traditional advertising for the most part – a stance it has maintained since it was founded in 2000. Instead, it engages in community partnerships, which it believes is a more effective way of building brand awareness on a mass scale.

Last year, Pinnacle became the official bank of the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum.

“The partnership is a great opportunity to get our name out into the Memphis market,” said Lisa Foley, Pinnacle’s area manager for client services. “It was a no-brainer for us. It’s allowed us to invite a lot of clients and get our associates involved, and it’s opened up the doors in many ways with other business opportunities.”

Pinnacle’s logo is featured prominently within FedExForum, including middle-tier Pinnacle Level seating and at five of the bank’s ATM machines inside the arena. Pinnacle’s credit and debit cards are also branded with the team’s logo as part of its Grizzlies banking promotion.

Nashville-based Pinnacle is also the official bank for the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, a relationship it has maintained for the past nine years.

In addition, Foley said, Pinnacle personnel sit on the boards of various local organizations. A couple of the local groups with which the bank is involved include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis.

Overall, the bank is mostly focused on people and personal relationships between clients and advisers.

“All of our advisers do a great job, and we want to get out into our community, working and engaging with different businesses, nonprofits, organizations and individuals,” she said. “That’s the way we build relationships, and it’s been really successful for us.”

PROPERTY SALES 100 375 3,773
MORTGAGES 63 202 2,481
BUILDING PERMITS 392 651 8,607
BANKRUPTCIES 38 117 2,021