Good Sense Doesn't Have to be Stodgy

A stable but dated identity

Sound banking principles are the cornerstone of the financial industry, essential for delivering trust, openness and transparency. This has never been an issue for Washington Federal, which for decades has served as a model of integrity for the banking system—and as responsible stewards of people’s money. As a result, it emerged from the economic downturn not just unscathed, but poised for growth.

To enhance its business banking and commercial real estate capabilities, the bank embarked on a series of strategic acquisitions. This resulted in an assemblage of different cultures, communications styles and brand equities.

Brand experiences varied widely from branch to branch, and the Washington Federal visual identity felt dated. The bank needed a top-to-bottom brand refresh and realignment: a new visual identity that unified its many cultures, and a new brand strategy that actively promoted the organization’s conservative approach.

Common sense for the common good

Siegel+Gale found that Washington Federal employees were most proud of the bank’s commitments to transparency, personal attention and disciplined business practices. The challenge lay in discovering how to communicate these highly valued tenets to the wider world.

We tested messaging on focus groups of both customers and non-customers—uncovering insights such as “embrace your small bank qualities,” “call attention to your heritage,” “carefully define ‘personal,’” “demonstrate transparency” and “emphasize partnership (with clients).”

These insights informed a new corporate brand positioning: “Washington Federal practices common sense banking that helps neighborhoods flourish.”

In support of this idea of conservatism for the greater good, we reinvigorated the Washington Federal visual system and redesigned its logo—incorporating into the mark a new tagline we developed: “Invested Here.”

A brand that just feels right

The updated brand is resonating both externally and internally. One post-refresh survey showed that the company tripled top-of-mind awareness in its target audience. According to Cathy Cooper, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Washington Federal, “Our own employees love the tagline and the new signs. That’s the word they use. Love. That means the work [Siegel+Gale has] done with us has hit the nail squarely on the head.”

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