I’ve always found it curious that most industries have a distinct look. Why? The people who ‘consume’ the products and/or services of tech companies or of businesses in the creative industries, have got used to them looking bright, maybe a bit quirky, and very informal. We’ve come to expect it. Consumers of financial products on the other hand, will be bored of the sight of navy blue and images of smug, retired couples walking their Border Terrier on a beach.
I find all this curious mainly because these ‘consumers’ are the same people. Things are changing, slowly, in the financial sector, but why do we still have such a stuffy and dull image that so many practitioners seem proud to uphold?
That question was the catalyst for why PSG took a counterculture approach to building a brand.
I try not to think about how many years have passed since our designer, Mike Cannings of BM Inc, asked me to give him an idea of who’s website and branding I liked. Several, mind numbing, hours of internet searching later gave me the answer. No ones. At least this started to make life much easier. The brief became simple – make us look not like them! After all, we weren’t like them. We still aren’t.
You won’t find many people in our brilliant team who think that pensions are fun, or sexy, or even really all that interesting. Not compared with say, touring the world with a famous band, or, well, almost anything for that matter. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt a mindset that nurtures a fun, rewarding and creative work culture. In other words, recognise that both your customers and your employees just might be crying out for a pensions provider that hasn’t come out of the same Acme Pensions Provider machine that seems to have produced all the others.
We’ve never subscribed to the ubiquitous formula of generic stock photography + navy blue ÷ beige x suits = trust-worthy financial experts. When we look at our clients we see clever business people, and smart individuals. We do not believe that these people judge the competency and expertise of those to whom they entrust their pension administration, on how ‘serious’ they appear to be. We have always trusted that people are more interested in integrity and in how they are treated and that this is how they measure whether someone is fit for purpose.
It’s encouraging to see signs that the financial services industry is, here and there at least, waking up to this. The real test though is how deep your brand values run. Is all this just refreshing marketing in an industry ripe for a fresh look? No, PSG’s branding isn’t just a shop window. It truly is a reflection of the values and attitude of everyone that works here.
We have a poster on one of our walls, lovingly created for us by Mike Cannings. It uses our familiar illustrative style and colour and the only text reads: we’re not slick suits, we’re smart thinking, we’re not smoke and mirrors, we’re open and approachable.
Enough said really.