ICBA boldly differentiating community banks to consumers amid headlines
Washington, D.C. (April 3, 2023) — With banking news making national headlines, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is delivering a powerful and timely message to consumers: Where you choose to bank matters, and community banks are best positioned to serve your financial needs.
As the nation’s voice for community banks, ICBA today is launching a national public awareness campaign that educates consumers on the benefits of banking with a local community bank. With market research, creative advertising, public relations and media strategy, the campaign encourages Americans to visit BankLocally.org to find a community bank, while boldly and effectively differentiating community banks from large banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
“ICBA is investing big in the future of community banking with the launch of this consumer-driven public awareness campaign,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “Now more than ever, we must shine a light on the unmistakably different business model that is community banking and introduce it as a clear choice to America’s consumers.”
ICBA believes now is the time to reinforce the importance of community banking and is giving community banks resources to spread the message in their local markets. The turnkey member toolkit can be accessed at icba.org/campaign.
“Consumers deserve to know that they have a safe, sound and secure community banking option in their own community that can be their financial advocate for life,” Romero Rainey said. “Together with our community bank members, we will make a difference and shine a light on all that is well and good in community banking.”
In 2022, ICBA created a pilot campaign to determine the viability and need of a national campaign by testing messaging and creative assets to prove opportunities exist to increase consumer awareness and positive perceptions of community banking. Pre- and post-pilot campaign research revealed a clear response and opportunity for consumer education and messaging, including:
- The percentage of consumers who know what a community bank is increased 22%.
- Consumers with positive opinions of community banks grew by 15%.
- After seeing the campaign elements, 75% of non-customers were interested in learning about locally owned community banks in their area.
Beyond unrivaled access to a local financial advocate, customer service and relationship banking for which community banks are known, a clear and defining attribute of the community banking business model is keeping money local and investing in communities. “With recent headlines sparking questions and interest in various banking options, this is as important as ever,” Romero Rainey said. “In stark contrast to those large, risky banks in the news, community banks keep money local and exist to serve the needs of their local customers and communities for the long haul.”
The research also found a critical link between the millennial generation and community banks. This link comes at a time when many millennials are feeling uncertain about the banking industry due to recent events.
According to ICBA’s research, 46% of millennials said supporting local communities is one of the most important characteristics of a “perfect” bank. Further, millennials showed more interest in community banks than previous generations (61% among ages 25-39 vs. 50% for age 40 and up).
The millennial generation comprises 72 million Americans, making it the nation’s largest generation. ICBA further narrowed the millennial audience to focus on “community-minded millennials,” individuals born between 1981-96 whose lifestyles and values may align with other community causes that support local economies, such as buy-, shop- and dine-local initiatives.
“Millennials already have experienced two historical financial moments within their lifetimes and are on the brink of or currently experiencing some of life’s biggest financial moments and milestones,” ICBA Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Rob Birgfeld said. “It’s vital consumers know that community banks are the perfect fit for their life’s journey and stand ready to build a trusted banking relationship with them — helping them achieve financial stability and their life’s goals, all while making the community they call home stronger and more vibrant.”
In addition to market research, ICBA’s national campaign includes creative advertising, public relations and media strategy to reach consumers where they are to further educate them on what community banks are and why consumers should choose to bank with a local community bank. The campaign also provides strategic direction and creative assets to ICBA’s thousands of member community banks across the country that want to share their stories and amplify the campaign messaging and deliverables to consumers within their local markets.