Here in the Southeast, Regions Bank is touting its acquisition of AmSouth Bank with new signage, new logos, and an extensive advertising campaign to promote its new image.
(As you may recall, I wrote about the new logo a few weeks ago in a blog post that asked why bank logos, in general, were so uninspiring. The new Regions logo looks looks like a fan or a fern.)
The Regions advertising campaign, which I've seen for a few months now, still leaves me puzzled. The TV and print ads all feature the same icon: a single-speed bicycle -- the kind a child might ride, although it's clearly large enough for adults in some of the ads -- painted the same shade of of lime green as the Regions logo.
The first TV ads, designed to introduce customers to the bank's new image, showed customers happily pedaling their way to the bank. Newer ads mention show the bicycles while mentioning the bank's products and services -- e.g., one bank about retirement services shows two bikes sitting in the foreground on a dock, and a symbol of a carefree retirement rests in the distance. (Sitting here in Starbucks, I believe it's a boat at the end of the dock, but now that I'm trying to remember the particular spot, it could just be a couple sitting out there.)
I don't begrudge Regions' advertising team for trying to be different, and a lime green bicycle certainly stands out from the other banks. However, I don't know if a children's bike is the most appropriate symbol to associate with a major financial institution.
I think you can look at bikes in two ways:
First, bikes are fun. They're what you ride when you're a kid. They invite us to put baseball cards in the spokes and bells on the handles. They're brightly colored and evoke memories of childhood. This is what the Regions bike does. But, as a banking customer, I'm not sure I'd want my bank to be fun. I want them to be responsible, and follow the rules, and take diligent care of my money. I want them to open at 9 a.m., not to be out playing in the back yard with action figures and dolls.
Here's the other view of bikes: They're what you ride when you're an adult. They're complex. They're sophisticated. They're competitive. If you put more work into them, they give you a greater reward. They provide you a means to see the world at your own pace. In a world in which everyone else is driving cars, they allow you to be nimble and stay lean.
I'm perplexed by the Regions ads because I don't understand why a bank would such a childlike symbol. It doesn't make any sense to me. It's very memorable, but you'd have a hard time convincing me that it helps win new customers.
Of course, I could be wrong.
Perhaps I'm making too much of a fuss over banks and bikes. I will ask my friend Alan Snel, the world's greatest bike enthusiast, what he thinks of the Regions Bank bike campaign. (If you haven't checked out Alan Snel's Bike Stories blog yet, head over and check it out. Wonderful stuff.)
Now, once again, let's go through my standard disclaimer: I am a business reporter, but the banking industry is not my beat. Also, blog post should not be construed as my opinions about any bank, the banking industry, ad firm, or the advertising industry. It is merely my opinion about some advertisements. Also, if you dislike anything I've said, I am completely wrong. And this entire post is a typo.