Why CIBC put a customer’s name on a branch

The bank has begun a new client-focused content series to bring the human element back to increasingly digitized relationships.


Every year, CIBC hosts a client appreciation day, which is generally branch-led and involves coffee giveaways or contests. This year, the bank aimed to go bigger by bringing national attention to one client in particular, transforming her local branch into “Crystal’s Banking Centre” for the day.

The goal was to show appreciation for Crystal Regehr Westergard from Camrose, Alberta, who (together with her husband, Bert) received business advice and a loan from her CIBC branch. That enabled them to transform their kitchen-based operation into a business producing more than two million chocolate bars called Cuban Lunch within two years.

CIBC-MapsThe bank’s makeover involved more than simply putting name on the storefront. On Oct. 25, every consumer touchpoint, from the bank’s welcome mat to employee name tags and in-branch pens included Westergard’s first name. Even the branch’s address on Google Maps was updated. The event was further promoted on social (with posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), and a video was created to help tell her story.

The video is the first in the CIBC Memento Project, a new content series that will focus on showcasing the successes of CIBC members across the country. The bank worked with Toronto-based creative agency Fuse on the campaign.

Barret Van Allen, director of consumer marketing at CIBC, says the strategy was based on the insight that, as industries shift from traditional to more digital forms of communication in catering to client demands, the human element is often lost.

“Clients today often feel more like a number than a person. Our goal was to showcase that human element in our relationships with our clients by adding a name, a face and a story to our clients,” Van Allen says. “We also know that in the day-to-day grind of life, people often lose sight of how our employees touch and change the lives of our clients every day.”

Over the years, financial services companies have found different ways of incorporating their clients’ stories into their marketing efforts. But Van Allen says CIBC’s push goes further by showing the role the bank’s advisor, Melissa Skinner, played in transforming Westergard’s business, adding more of a human element than simply stating it as a brand value. He adds that CIBC has engaged with 4 million clients through the effort so far, and that the campaign is expected to reach 14 million Canadians.

The customer appreciation effort bookends a summer CIBC campaign, led by Juniper Park\TBWA, which positioned the bank as understanding the needs of small business owners (like Westergard) and being able to provide them with the right advice and solutions.