Branding key issue in bank reviews

Canadian banks are in the midst of an identity crisis. Ever since last year's aborted mergers between CIBC and the TD Bank, and the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal, the country's big banks have had to reconsider their strategies...

Canadian banks are in the midst of an identity crisis.

Ever since last year’s aborted mergers between CIBC and the TD Bank, and the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal, the country’s big banks have had to reconsider their strategies for becoming more competitive both at home and in a deregulated global financial market.

One of the first to make a move was TD Bank, which through its merger with Canada Trust has gained in size, but is left with the considerable challenge of branding a new company of blended identities and cultures. Not surprisingly, an advertising agency review is expected to be one of the first orders of business for the new TD-CT.

Meanwhile, last October, CIBC began a review of its business.

Brand identity is viewed as such a critical aspect of CIBC’s future that the firm conducting the agency review on its behalf – the Westport Consulting Group – has been given a key role in helping to shape and define the bank’s positioning.

John Laurino, managing director of Westport, says the new positioning – which will replace CIBC’s three-year-old positioning statement ‘Seeing Beyond’ – will be kept a closely guarded secret until its launch by the new agency.

As for which agency that will be, Laurino says the choice will come down to which shop best understands the new positioning and proves they can execute on it.

‘We have a completely different approach [to agency reviews],’ he says. ‘It’s all based on the positioning and brand work and its interpretation, not the financials or how much you’re going to be able to cut the [agency] fee or any of that stuff.

‘In today’s world, branding is so important that getting the right agency for the right reasons and making sure everyone is on board conceptually is much more important than trying to beat them up on the fee.’

Laurino says a long list for the CIBC account has been developed, but that none of the agencies taking part in the review will be named. A winner will be announced around the end of April, he says.

Westport, which specializes in strategic planning and product development, has worked with a long list of top U.S. financial institutions, including Bankers Trust, First Interstate Bancorp, People’s Bank, Bank of America and Citicorp/Citibank.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.