I can't have a traditional marketing department, says HSBC's Amanda Rendle

HSBC's Amanda Rendle talks to Marketing about returning to a 150 year old purpose message while overhauling its marketing team for the future.

Grey London's 'lift' ad for HSBC takes the brand back to its 150 year old purpose
Grey London's 'lift' ad for HSBC takes the brand back to its 150 year old purpose
I have to start looking at what people I need for the future because it has to change. I can’t have a traditional marketing department

Speaking to Marketing, HSBC global head of marketing for commercial banking and global banking and markets, Amanda Rendle, discusses the need to create new roles and overhaul the shape of its marketing team as well as the challenges facing brands as they become more customer centric.

Regaining customer confidence

The HSBC brand is undergoing immense change, with its high street stores potentially facing an entire rebrand and an estimated 25,000 jobs being put on the line . The commercial part of the business, however, is returning to its 150 year old brand purpose, according to Rendle. A recent major ad campaign, by Grey London, is helping the brand show that it is customer-focused, something many banks have been criticised for losing in the turbulence of the banking crisis.

"I think from the banking crisis a lot of banking brands have had to go back and look at their purpose and look at what they are there for. They have to go back to customers and say ‘this is what we are here for and we’re going to reorchestrate the business to be for the customer’," she says.

Return to your original purpose

According to Rendle this is exactly what the brand is working on doing and rather than creating a new purpose for the modern world, she has advised returning to the original brand purpose.

We have a clear purpose, which we have moved away from, and that is the DNA of the business

"We are 150 years old this year and we have a purpose statement which is all about helping companies go into new markets and helping businesses and people fulfill their hopes and dreams. We have a clear purpose, which we have moved away from, and that is the DNA of the business. With everything going on we've been able to look back at that and say ‘this is why we are here, this is what we were set up to be 150 years ago’. We were set up to be a  trade bank and we are the biggest bank in the world that’s doing that. It’s helpful to be able to go back to your purpose statement and say actually that’s why we are here," she adds.

Keep it simple

However, she warns that brands need to ensure services and experiences reflect that as simply as possible for customers.

"Consumers have more choice, so I think that in a way that complicates things and with emergence of technology, the choice is massive.Traditional banking actually simplifies choice to consumer but you have to be really good at it," she adds.

Consumers have more choice, so I think that in a way that complicates things and with emergence of technology, the choice is massive

Get rid of a traditional marketing team

Rendle now has the mammoth task of building a new type of marketing team for this customer-centric future for HSBC’s commercial division.

"I have to start looking at what people I need for the future because it has to change. I can’t have a traditional marketing department."

She says the types of roles she is looking for might end up being called customer engineers or customer journey engineers. A key problem for HSBC, she says, is that it has an abundance of insights on customers but having staff to translate that into actions is a hindrance.

"We need customer insight roles where their job is insight but it’s also about looking at what do those insights really mean? You have so much insight now but can you tell me what we need to do? How do you take all that and turn it into something really useful for our customer? That’s what we absolutely should be doing."

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