Editor’s note: Erinn Steffen is SVP, insight, and Katie Bender is VP, research, at Mower Agency, a N.Y.-based advertising services firm. 

Over the past several years, Northwest Bank has evolved from a community bank to a full-service financial institution with a regional presence in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana. This evolution has taken place during a time when Northwest and the banking industry have become increasingly more complex through ongoing changes in areas such as digital technology, customer expectations and expanding footprints. Against this backdrop and to support its continuing momentum, Northwest recognized it was time to reevaluate and reposition its brand to reflect both current offerings and future direction.  

Northwest Bank partnered with Mower to align its brand, reestablishing its story and positioning with current and prospective customers. To that end, Northwest knew that understanding its customers’ perspectives and the audience landscape were crucial to determining where the brand was and where it needed to go.

To inform development of the brand strategy and creative expression, Mower leveraged multiple methods of research to understand the competitive landscape and gain the voice of internal stakeholders, customers and prospects across their different segments.

To help us understand competitive positioning, messaging, look and feel we evaluated competitor websites, social media and on/offline advertising. We reviewed past and current brand marketing communications of four competitor banks for benchmarking and comparison against Northwest Bank. We confirmed that competitors all had similar positioning and that, aside from brand colors, there were many commonalities across their approach to brand strategy. So, we knew we had to dig deeper to find what could differentiate Northwest Bank.

To gather internal stakeholders’ perspectives (n=16) we used Mower...