February 28, 2010

Postbank: Not So Simple After All

It's all too easy to be cynical when we hear the news of the failure of another brand.

Only three years ago, Postbank's promise of banking that's "as simple as it should be" seemed too good to be true for those of us raised on a system of anything-but-straightforward borrowing and lending, even before it had become fully apparent how other banks had tied us all up in knots thanks to their devious machinations.

Their charming TV Ad promised to do without the 'terribly grand' but unnecessary trappings of traditional banking and offered instead a "community-based bank built on a commitment to make banking and insurance accessible to everyone, throughout Ireland."

Why, they even opened on a Saturday!

Now, we learn that partners in the venture, An Post and BNP Parisbas Fortis, have decided that the operation is no longer viable and are dismantling it at the end of the year.

But let's not allow this failed effort to disillusion us. As customers, we all deserve banking that's 'as simple as it should be', and it's up to us to put pressure on the other banks to make personal and commercial banking more straightforward.

And we shouldn't stop with Postbank, of course. No entrepreneur that I've ever met set out to offer a mediocre service or product. Even a beaten brand will often embody something worth fighting for, and its defeat despite a valiant effort shouldn't discourage us from taking up the cause. O'Brien's Sandwich Bars continue to deserve credit for setting the standard much higher than the 'limp lettuce and hang sangwich' on offer before their arrival. And 'Ceol - The Traditional Irish Music Centre' still strikes me as an inspired and brave effort to celebrate a glorious tradition some years after its disappearance from Smithfield in Dublin.

Simply because economic pressures prevail shouldn't mean that we settle for second-rate. Instead, we should be inspired by the lofty ambitions of our brand-makers and continue to demand only the best from those who offer goods and services for sale in the marketplace.

And as for us brand-makers, setting out to make an offer 'as simple as it should be' probably isn't a bad place to start.

Over To You: Which fallen brands continue to inspire you at work or at play?


Paul O'Connor said...

Hi Gerard,
It was such a shame to see PostBank go down. I honestly expected them to benefit from the backlash against the 'traditional' Irish banks. Then again, I didn't open an account with them, so it makes me question what it was that held me back from doing so? Was it that they didn't communicate their message powerfully enough?

Gerard Tannam said...

Hi Paul - Thanks for your comment.

I think you're right: having put some real distance between their offer and the rest of the market, Postbank didn't capitalise on their strong positioning.

The success of RaboDirect suggests that this can be done through clever advertising featuring a real and credible tone of voice.

A great opportunity missed...