Every time I see the Citadel logo, my immediate reaction is to cover my ears to prepare for the ear-piercing, obnoxious sound of a cruise ship horn as it departs from the port. Now, I haven’t asked Citadel what the graphic is intended to represent, but its shape, style, small star over the “i” and colors suggest they serve the travel category versus financial services. So, I decided to delve further into this brand to see if I could make sense of it.
What I found is an institution that believes it is different because it offers better rates, greater convenience, honest and fair fees, outstanding customer service, community involvement, and stability and security. How “different” is this claim compared to most financial institutions? Not very. Did they effectively quantify their claims? Not really.
So, I looked a little further and found product copy that read like this: Money Market Accounts: A better rate is just the beginning. Citadel Money Market Accounts feature competitive rates that keep pace with market conditions. And you can access your money whenever you need it. Sound familiar? Sure does.
The next step in this exercise was to consider their tagline: “Banking with one focus. You.” (You, being underscored.) Funny thing is I did not find a brand voice that spoke to “me.” And their brand visuals are a collection of hand-drawn objects depicting products or other objects . Nowhere did I find some sort of expression of “the people they focus on.” In fact, you won’t find one image of a person anywhere on their website.
Then there is Citadel’s latest TV campaign with Lewis and the pneumatic tube. The spots are completely disconnected from the look and feel of the website, and don’t deliver on their claim very well.
What could Citadel do to make some sense of its brand? Certainly a customer testimonial component would help support its claim of focusing on its customers. It could also use a more thoughtful voice by replacing the “me too” financial industry language with messaging that speaks to the brand’s benefits. A logo refresh is probably in order as well, but more importantly Citadel may need to rethink its positioning. It seems they have a good story to tell, it just isn’t clear what that story is.