‘Choose emotion over function’ – how to create a great financial services campaign

Matt Village

Receiving a financial services brief once saw creatives recoil in horror… and I totally understand why.

There is a widespread perception that the sector is blighted by two of the biggest barriers to creativity: red tape and fear of risk.

However, while this might once have been true, we are now seeing much greater creativity in the sector as challengers fight for attention and traditional players dig deeper to show they’re still relevant. There’s never been a more exciting time to get a financial services brief in.

Every brief is, of course, different, but there are a few tips that are universally applicable:

Identify brand purpose

Nowadays, who you are is just as important as what you do. The most important question to ask before anything else gets done is: “What’s your brand purpose?” Why does your brand exist? The wrong answer is: “To make money.”

The best campaigns across any sector build from a strong brand purpose – without one, you’re at a disadvantage before you’ve begun. The financial services market is no different: if you’re going to come up with that amazing idea, it needs to be deeply rooted in a core brand purpose that genuinely resonates.

The most powerful tool you have is your own data

Whether or not you agree that ‘data has replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource’, the potential power of internal data cannot be overstated. Financial services companies (for the most part) have vast oceans of data that go largely unused.

If you’re searching for insights to inform a campaign, start with your own data. Campaigns rooted in consumer sentiment have their place, but any brand can do that. There’s nothing more powerful than unique, ownable data.

Emotion over function

The financial services sector is far from dry and boring; in fact, I think there are few sectors more filled with passionately held viewpoints and raw emotion. But while everyone has an opinion, few are vocal about their feelings, and financial conversations are taboo for many.

Few financial campaigns tap effectively into these underlying emotions, but those that are brave and human with their communications reap the rewards by creating memorable campaigns of genuine interest that live longer in the mind.

In the ‘networked age’, influencers and passions spread ideas

Once you’ve identified your campaign idea (ideally built around a human truth and emotion) it’s time to start thinking about how best to scale it. I’ve heard it said before that there isn’t a role for influencers within financial services campaigns, which is an incredibly-old-fashioned viewpoint. People follow people like themselves and passion spreads ideas and deepens engagement.

If you want your campaign to engage at a greater level, find influencers passionate about your message and show them ‘doing’, not just ‘saying’; and create content people actually want to share. The Holy Grail for any financial campaign is to land on a point that resonates so strongly with your audience that they become brand advocates and speak on your behalf.

First published in PR Week