Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Banking could be in line to get its morning cup of java

Bank of America announced recently that they have hired Anne Saunders as brand and advertising executive. Saunders was previously senior vice president of brand strategy at Starbucks, which raises an interesting question: can Bank of America do for banking what Starbucks did for the coffee experience?

What was the latest innovation in banking? Online bill pay? Drive thru ATMs?

Starbucks has taken the concept of having a morning coffee, merged it with the popular trend of European gourmet coffee and espresso, and melded the two into a ritual akin to Sunday church. The simple act of starting one’s day with a cup of java is taken to an experiential level, and in the process of creating this ritual, Starbucks created loyalty.

Going beyond that created loyalty, the company itself has created a company culture in support of providing customers a unique and pleasant experience. One could argue that they homogenized what is essentially an artisanal product, but what they created was a consistency that customers can count on. Walk into any Starbucks in any state of the union, and you can rest assured you will experience the same thing.

Banking is largely the same wherever you go as well, but in this case, that experience is nothing to write home about. Will Saunders add a bit of Starbucks to banking? It could sure use the pick-me-up.

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