Sunday, July 27, 2008

O Canada banks (OCBs)

Watching the 2008 RBC Canadian Open piqued my interest in how Canada's five biggest banks are presenting their brands. Not well is the short answer. The romantic old banking names – Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion, Bank of Montreal – have been disappearing, replaced by harsh, cold initials.

We understand the reasons, of course. Royal Bank of Canada is no longer royal, a bank, nor strictly Canadian. In becoming a diversified fin serve company, the organization understandably moved to an RBC-dominated brand architecture. Similarly, Bank of Montreal puts BMO in front of its businesses, and all Toronto Dominion names begin with that brusk and ubiquitous TD. The practice accommodates non-bank services and each institution's proper role in the world's capital markets.

But at what cost? One casualty is promotion of Canada as a brand. That vast, cold, sparsely populated nation has a rich culture and history. Its spirit of nationalism fends off Yankee encroachment and waxes and wanes amid the internal tensions of a bi-cultural society. What better way to carry the nation's brand across the continent and globe than in thousands of financial facilities and via millions of financial transactions?

Instead of being reminded of Canada, the world sees RBC, TD, BMO and CIBC. Only Scotiabank's brand projects the flavor of its native land (originally Bank of Nova Scotia)... and the heritage of being a bank.

Banks do – have done – will do – a lot of good in the web of commerce. It's not bad to have "bank" in your name. Or America. Or New York. Or Montreal. Or Canada.



Scott Lerman said...

I'm with you Claude--it's sad to see TD bank signs sprouting up across the USA. Awfully weak for a organization named DOMINION and nearly as cheesy as homegrown CapitalOne. But there is hope for Canadian brands. My pal Jeannette Hanna just published IKONICA, a field guide to Canada's proud and quirky brands. Brands just the way you like them.

brandsinger said...

Thanks for the tip, Scott. I'll get your friend's book.

Jay Livingston said...

Maybe you were being humoresk or had too much champagne with your lobster bisk, but "brusk"? Maybe your spell checker didn't flag this one. Maybe it's now standard. Whatever. Anyway, I'm just an old conservative who still uses the "gue" in words like catalogue and dialogue.

brandsinger said...

Thanks, Jay. You are a gentleman and a skolar.

Scott said...

Jay, I assumed that Claude was using the brusque, but acceptable spelling.

Paul Fraser said...

RBC Bank,(Corporate Bully)

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brendan said...

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Peter Francey said...

Your lead story on Canadian Banks is quite interesting and somewhat provocative. In the past, I would have agreed with you without hesitation. Today, I am not too sure.

As far as the "local Canadian" market is concerned, RBC is a powerhouse bank and it continues to post huge profits. CIBC (which was probably one of the first banks to go to initials ... so we didn't have to refer to them as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), has weathered all sorts of storms (including Enron) and still manages to appeal to a large segment of the population. TD dropped Toronto-Dominion Bank when it acquired Canada Trust.

I noticed that Scott Lerman mentioned Ikonica (the book) and in that it talks about how successful Canadian brands are often very chameleon-like, and I think that as these banks have become more global, they have played down their Canadian roots. Terms like Dominion and Imperial aren't part of the global brand lexicon.

brandsinger said...

Great points, Peter, thanks. "Played down their Canadian roots" -- that's my point. In the Canadian context, Dominion and Imperial can be made to sound noble, though granted from an American or English or German bank such words would be strictly verboten.

Paul Fraser said...

Att: RBC Bank President Gordon Nixon - Salary - 11.73 Million!!

I'm a commercial fisherman fighting the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Bank) over a $100,000 loan mistake. I lost my home, fishing vessel and equipment. Help me fight this corporate bully by closing your RBC account.

There is no monthly interest payment date on the contract.
Date of first installment payment, (Principal + interest) is approximately 1 year from the signing of my contract.
Demand loan contracts signed by other fishermen around the same time showed a monthly interest payment date on their contract,(agreement).
The lending policy did change at RBC from one payment (principal + interest) per year for fishing loans to principal paid yearly with interest paid monthly. This lending practice was in place when I approached RBC.
Only problem is the loans officer was a replacement who wasn't familiar with these type of loans. She never informed me verbally or in writing about this new criteria.

Phone or e-mail:
RBC President, Gordon Nixon, Toronto (416)974-6415
RBC Vice President, Sales, Anne Lockie, Toronto (416)974-6821
RBC President, Atlantic Provinces, Greg Grice (902)421-8112
RBC Manager, Cape Breton/Eastern Nova Scotia, Jerry Rankin (902)567-8600
RBC Vice President, Atlantic Provinces, Brian Conway (902)491-4302
RBC Vice President, Halifax Region, Tammy Holland (902)421-8112
RBC Senior Manager, Media & Public Relations, Beja Rodeck (416)974-5506
RBC Ombudsman, Wendy Knight, Toronto, Ontario 1-800-769-2542
Ombudsman for Banking Services & Investments, JoAnne Olafson, Toronto, 1-888-451-4519