National Bank wraps an eyesore in an inclusive message

The financial institution turns construction on a new head office into an opportunity to remind people of its core values.

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Construction sites are not exactly pleasant to look at, particularly when they take over a plot of land for a lengthy period of time. So National Bank, in the process of building a new office, decided to spruce things up with a message that maintains some of the bank’s core values.

“#CelebratingOurDiversity” is an effort with a dual focus: drawing attention to National Bank’s new head office at the corner of Robert-Bourassa and Saint-Jacques Street in Montreal, along with highlighting its commitment to a message of openness and inclusion during the city’s Pride celebrations, says Lucie Blanchet, executive VP of personal banking and marketing for the financial institution.

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Around the perimeter of the construction site is a 300-foot palisade, designed by agency Sid Lee, with bright block lettering displaying messages of diversity. National Bank encourages visitors to snap a photo in front of the installation to post with the campaign hashtag or “#nbcdonation.” Each post will mark a $1 donation (which National Bank will match) to longtime partner and LGBTQ non-profit Fondation Émergence.

The campaign, Blanchet says, is a way for the company to “take a stand on our values and our purpose and our mission” as a bank that values its human relationship with its varied client base. Diversity and inclusion are messages that businesses have a responsibility to promote, she explains, adding “it doesn’t just belong in politics or education.”

With “#CelebratingOurDiversity,” it was also the relationship the company has with its employees – some 200 of whom are involved with LGBTQ organizations – that remained at the core of the campaign. Blanchet stresses how important it was that the message resonated with the staff in an authentic way, so it would reach others similarly. “It was important for us to communicate our involvement and action so we meet client expectations.”

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The image of the National Bank brand has undergone a strategic change over the past year or so, Blanchet explains, as the company finds a way to communicate its focus on innovation in order to meet the needs of a younger demographic.

Slated to open in 2022, the new head office is a stone’s throw from National Bank’s current headquarters. Because of its presence as a landmark building upon entering the city from the south, staying in the downtown neighbourhood was important, Blanchet says, and the move is reflective of the broader changes at National Bank.

“We are really in an industry that is being transformed dramatically and we have the pressure of other industries, specifically the retail industry, to offer a banking experience that is more modern, simple, efficient and accessible without necessarily having to go to a branch,” she says.

To achieve that, technology will play a bigger role, but Blanchet stresses the bank’s philosophy has not shifted; the human relationship remains the heart of the banking relationship, she says. “Our message is that we have to [pursue] technology within banking, but we are not a technology company.”