Consultancy: Design House
Project: NatWest Prime Retail Stores
Client: Banco Banif
Consultancy: RPA Europe
Project: New branch design
One of the hardest tasks for today’s consumers is to know where to go
for specific financial needs. Building societies have become banks, big
retail brand names now offer their own financial products, ATMs and
telephone banking are the order of the day, all tempting customers who
once would have stayed with a bank for life. This represents a serious
threat to high street banks as we know them.
The challenge for NatWest was to reposition branch outlets in the light
of trends and changes in customer and competitor behaviours and
perceptions. The result, launched late last year, was the UK’s first
seven-day ‘Financial Store’ in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock. It
was closely followed by another in Basingstoke.
They were designed to create an environment which was about people,
where customers could feel comfortable and relaxed, and which let them
take time to discuss their financial affairs. They demonstrate core
brand values, while retaining existing corporate identity, yet encourage
interaction between customers and staff, plus facilitate the use of the
automated self-service options.
The store’s meeting rooms are comfortable, with TV and games packs to
amuse the kids, and have an indoor atrium in the browsing area which
creates the look of natural light and helps attract customers. Customers
can sit, have a coffee and read the papers.
New merchandising layouts and formats help to move the customer around
the store, while the counters at Basingstoke are protected by a light
sensor-triggered steel screen, unique in a banking environment.
Initial results are promising: 19% of Lakeside and 9% of Basingstoke
footfall are non-NatWest current account holders, compared to 1% in
control branches. But perhaps the most telling insight came from an
employee: ‘I’ve had customers who’ve done non-stop talking and they say
‘I must let you go to get on with your work’ and I say ‘no, this is my
work, do you want a cup of tea?’ ’
Banco Banif, jointly owned by two of the largest banks in the Iberian
peninsular, Banco Central Hispano and Banco Comercial Portug-EAs,
located through research a new niche market which was previously
underdeveloped within Spain: private banking for high net worth
It wanted a new corporate identity and branch concept and to launch and
reposition Banco Banif as an exclusive private bank. The solution was a
pure, uncluttered transaction area leading to a galleria designed to
reflect an elegant atmosphere, complete with a wide corridor geared to
display antique furniture and contemporary works of art.
Sales so far are 600% up on forecasts, while there has been a 5%
increased investment per customer post launch.
Launching into a market where one product previously reigned supreme is
a tricky venture.
Tradepoint, the first competitor to the London Stock Exchange, was
launched last year. It is an order-driven, screen-based, electronic
market for securities trading which - in a conservative market - needed
immediate recognition of its innovation and trustworthiness.
Springpoint, through design, positioned it as the ‘new establishment’ of
the City. It created a marque which used the visual language associated
with paper currency, presented in a contemporaneous form.
So far, around 42 firms, including some of the City’s largest investment
banks, stockbrokers and institutional investment companies, have signed