JPMorgan Chase

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Just Be Cause.

For some reason, I was never a Citibank guy.  I love Citi Field in Queens, home of the NY Mets and once applied for a job at Publicis to work on Citibank.  That said, I do have a rewards credit card in my wallet, but that’s more a function of American Airlines than Citi.  Banks are not a category I get all warm and fuzzy about, with the possible exception of  JPMorgan Chase, a brand I did a dive on a couple of years ago.

Today I was reading Andrew Ross Sorkin, a New York Times financial columnist, and as a result have newfound affinity for Citibank. It seems the boys and women at Citi Bank have decided to stop doing business with manufacturers and sellers of guns. Not an easy task. Certainly they will pizzle off the NRA. They will, as the story explained, suffer a number of credit cards being cut up and other lost relationships. Moreover, they will need to figure out how to shut down gun show work-arounds.     

But what they have done is put the masses ahead of their bottom line. This is a level of cause related marketing I have not seen in a long time. I don’t know the Citibank brand strategy. I don’t know the CEO. I don’t begin to understand basis points and earnings.  I do know balls. This is a ballsy cause.




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I read a lot about leadership and one word seems to pop up a great deal is passion.  Leaders want passion in their companies and hiring agents want it in their hires. Employees when asked about personal traits often play the passion card. It’s kind of an over-used word in my opinion.

In my business practice I use the word love a great deal, telling customers and prospects I must learn to love their product to be an effective advocate. But how does one love JPMorgan Chase? How does one love Hospice Care Network? Or PwC? It takes some doing.  

Passion and love may be allies yet they are really two different things. Don’t mix them up.

As a brand planner – someone who mines care-abouts and good-ats – I try to remove passion. It is the dispassionate planner who has the best ear. Removing passion for an idea or insight is not easy, especially if you hit it early on, but it’s a necessary.  Brand planners need to keep an open door policy throughout the gleaning process. Om. It keeps a clear heart while you flesh out and prioritize all the values you need to consider.

Selling can be passionate, planning must be the opposite.



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I don’t know exactly why it is, but I love well-written restaurant reviews.  Good food writing does what ads are supposed to do “make you feel something, then do something.”  I sometimes feel the same way about Cathy Horyn, The New York Times style writer.  When reading Ms. Horyn, typically during Fashion Week, I find myself wishing for a touch of style. The do something part of the “feel then do” may be to go out and buy another pair of 501 jeans, but at least someone is benefiting.

Copywriters need to treat ads as food writers treat food.  They need to persuade through a love of the product.  A juicy scallop grilled perfectly, described loving and attentively, can make a person hungry.  A JPMorgan Chase Mastercard piece in a #10 envelope should be similarly treated.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there were robo- copywriting going on out there with the amount of direct response dreck being published. In fact, some of the robo-copywriting might be better than that of the human variety.

Hey copywriters, find the time to love the products about which you write. Savor them. And love  the craft. If you don’t, it’s time to step away from the keyboard and take a sabbatical. Peace!   

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There’s a whole side business in marketing devoted to customer care.  And there should be.  Caring for customers is important.  Back in the 90s as telephone and computers were learning to get along, call centers were investing heavily in computer telephony integration.  Software was reading inbound telephone numbers and matching them up with database records, putting customer information at customer service people’s finger tips. It was a great use of technology.  Problem resolution was making great strides. But the equation required putting people in the call center, which was a recurring expense.

Along came something called IVR (interactive voice response) “for credit cards press or say 1.” This invention helped keep headcount down in the call center by providing recorded information via prompt. Enter the web, which allowed the web to provide problem resolution via FAQs and tutorials – again less people. 

I received a call from Chase Bank last night – automated, of course – asking me to call a toll-free number because someone was trying to change my account access code or some such. In a panic I called and for 15 minutes was pushing prompts. McCrazy!  They called me. Luckily, the wifus (pronounced why-fus) was nearby, because I stalled at a prompt number 12 when  asked for my debit card number…which I don’t own.  “They want your ATM card number honey.” Turns out everything was fine and it was false alarm. So they say.

I’m so glad JPMorgan Chase is developing iPhone apps to make people’s banking lives easier.  But do you think they – and everyone else with customers – could employ a universal “I want a human” telephone prompt like 0-0?  That would be progress. Peace!  

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Question: What is a brand strategy? 

Answer: A brand strategy comprises a strategic idea or claim and three support planks that vivify the claim.  Three planks, because two don’t always allow for a complete, differentiated story. Getting the idea right is key. Selling it to consumers day after day is the heavy lifting…called brand management.

Chase What Matters.

JPMorgan Chase has a very identifiable idea: “Chase what matters.”  It’s a consumer directive from a very big company that knows how to make, save and invest money. Something they already get credit for.  The idea has ballast, but so far it is only an idea. Banks have been making promises without backing them up for decades. I’m not getting a read on the Chase support planks yet – the planks that allow me to believe Chase “knows what matters” to me and that they are the bank best equipped to deliver.   

One of Chase’s neater tactical ideas lately is the “Chase Loan For Hire” program, through which it decreases small business loans by a quarter point for every new employee hired, up to three. Though I have no idea what Chase’s planks are, forensically, I might assume this tactic supports a plank titled “Meaningful borrowing matters.”  I’m not talking buy a hot tub meaningful, I’m talking something that relates to what popular culture views as meaningful. Today that’s jobs.  Nice touch.

Banking is a tough category. In my bones I feel Chase has an idea, but the jury is still out on the organization of the proof.  I’ll continue to map its planks as they become evident and share them here at What’s The Idea? Peace!

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