Matthew Miller
Sep 12, 2018

'Bank less': The slogan so popular two banks are using it

What do you do when you discover your new brand philosophy is already in use by another player in your industry? Australia's Bankwest decided to stick to its guns.

Bankwest's positioning hit the streets this week, months after DBS's version.
Bankwest's positioning hit the streets this week, months after DBS's version.

Australia's Bankwest on Tuesday launched what it calls a "new, bold and distinctive brand positioning" with a campaign that includes OOH, press, digital and social. Developed by WPP AUNZ agency Union, the 'Bank less' positioning aims to positively differentiate the bank "in an increasingly homogenised industry and cynical consumer environment", according to a statement.

Makes perfect sense. So much sense, in fact, that another bank is already using essentially the same positioning. Singapore-based DBS rolled out its version, 'Live more, bank less' in May of this year, after dabbling with the phrase 'bank less' since at least 2016

Approached for comment, Bankwest and Union provided the following statement:

Bankwest and Union became aware of the DBS position and its similarity to the new brand for Bankwest after its development. We firmly believe the insights and sentiment behind both positions are very different. This, coupled with different target audiences, markets and a vastly different banking environment here in Australia, pulls apart the brand positions even further and therefore we opted to launch as planned.

The two banks do not compete directly. The main DBS markets, in addition to Singapore, are China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also has a smaller presence in Japan, Malaysia, the UAE and the UK. Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, operates solely in Australia, and mainly, as the name implies, in Western Australia. In fact, the company recently announced it would be reducing its footprint along the country's eastern coast by closing 29 locations

And unlike in past cases where similar-looking campaigns have come into question, the work from the two brands here really shares little other than the key phrase.

Bankwest's campaign follows in the style of a credit-card campaign the brand launched in July (see "Bank's cartoon characters are perhaps a bit too cartoonish"). The new work takes an irreverant tone, such as in this sarcastic social-media video posted on Sunday:

Here's a pre-roll ad that promises "less BS":

DBS uses its version of 'Bank less' to focus on family time and other values. The bank declined to comment for this story, but back in May, DBS said its brand promise "reflects the belief that in the digital era, [DBS] needs to deliver banking that is so simple, seamless and invisible, that customers have more time to spend on the people or things they care about".

Here's an example:

According to WPP AUNZ, the Bankwest campaign is the result of "extensive" consumer research meant to uncover how Australians feel about banking. “This is not a play-it-safe brand position for Bankwest," Paul Nagy, chief creative officer of Y&R (who worked on the campaign as part of Union), said in a release. "They could have flown under the radar, but Bankwest recognises that this is what people want and deserve right now from banks.”

'Bank less' is the driving force behind everything the bank does, according to Andrew Chanmugam, executive general manager of Bankwest customer experience. “'Bank less' is deliberately designed to be cheeky and capture attention, but it’s also a statement of intent about the experience we want customers to have each and every time they interact with us.”

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