Brands of simplicity and ease as game changers – the Simple banking model

There is no doubt in this day, to disrupt a category in a way that fundamentally changes the way value  is defined, will create the brand leaders of the future. Yes this can be about dramatic price cuts in underlying technologies, but it is also about creating value. Brands that are creating disruption through increased brand value are breaking old models by radical improvements in ease and simplicity for their customers.

The head to head clash between Sony’s confusing proliferation of products versus Apple’s sensory and intuitive simplicity, demonstrates how products of ease and simplicity dominate the market so radically, they disrupt.

Ease and simplicity comes down to a number of factors, but it basically means being able to seamlessly enter the customer’s world, heart and mind, by knowing them intimately. It means doing business with your brand is so well designed it feels as natural as breathing. In order to do this, your business needs to use customer insights to land in your customer’s world.

Take www.simple.com, an iphone app based banking model (which is not really a bank), that has wrapped banking products and services around an individual’s needs. simple.com uses ease and simplicity to embed itself more profoundly into the customer’s world than traditional banking.

simple.com launched in the US in December 2011, and while the business model is in its infancy, the market is feeling quite bullish about its prospects. Whether as an intermediary they can survive on their razor thin margins from the banks remains to be seen, but judging by their fast rate of customer acquisition, simple.com have a proposition the market wants.

Here are some guidelines to bring disruptive ‘ease and simplicity’ to your brand:

1. Position your brand in the customer’s world view.

This means stand in their shoes, understand their situational pressures and unmet needs. Go beyond the lip service of understanding the customer’s needs to actually morphing your business to make them feel more comfortable.

2. Attune to their feelings.

Create better experiences by showing your customer you understand and respect how they feel. simple.com’s business vision from the outset was very simple, to get rid of everything customers hated about banking, which was a commitment to customer attunement. simple.com capitalized on the customer’s sense of outrage at banking fees by joining them in their indignation:

Simple does not profit from fees. We believe that sort of business model creates an adversarial relationship between banks and their customers, since the bank benefits when customers make mistakes. That’s not right. We’re adamant about minimizing fees and never penalizing our customers.

 3Follow the customer’s logic.

What do they think first, second and next until they have developed the level of thinking required to understand your brand promise. Stage your messaging around emotional milestones, navigate them through the process, be clear about the end state, the thinking that needs to be place to form a positive perception. The number one need of banking customers researched by the simple.com team was a better web experience, one that is based on a customer’s natural logic.

4. Be a familiar voice, use the customer’s natural language.

Make your customer’s language, your  brand’s language. Don’t just speak with your customer voice, create dialogue and knock down the walls created by IVR’s, forms and the run around between business siloes. simple.com get it, and on their home page they boast:

Call us. We’re light on menus and automation, heavy on the answers you need.

5. Wear your heart on your sleeve and be an open book.

Customers like a brand that has feelings of its own and does the full reveal rather than hiding unpleasantries. Facebook, LinkedIn mean individuals are increasingly revealing all, and there is an expectation brands will do the same. simple.com tap into this need for disclosure with their nearly no fees model. With the promise of nearly no fees, customers can confidently transact, without having to check for the hidden surprises.

6. Use all the senses…sight, sound, smell and touch.

Apple’s success was based on its ability to be more human in the way it engaged with the senses. We know imagery and music play into the senses in a way that can emotionally powerful to a brand, creating attraction through positive affect. simple.com’s iphone interface uses enhanced sight by graphically representing an individual’s financial circumstances, allowing them to “see their money” more strategically than the traditional banking tally of  columns.

7. Be an outcome not just a feature and benefit.

The rise of smart products are products that get to know your customers’ needs and behave on your customers’ terms.  simple.com  do this so..well…simply, by packaging up financial information to help individuals control their spending and manage their finances with functionality like Safe to Spend allocation of funds.

Moving forward be radical ‘simple and easy’, but not recklessly ‘simple and easy’. Use qualitative research into emotional connections and dig deep into the customers hearts and minds to minimise risks and build a sound pathway forward.

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

http://www.heartsandminds.com.au

Founder of Thought Leaders Circle

http://www.thoughtleaderscircle.com

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