AMEX debuts Aussie iteration of global brand overhaul

American Express head of brand and experiences details how the team is putting a local flavour on the refreshed global brand platform

American Express has taken the Australian wrappers off its first united global brand platform, ‘Powerful Backing: Don’t do business / Don’t live life without it’, a program of activity that includes a $1 million investment into Australia’s music scene.

The new branding was launched in the US in April, and aims to recognise the interconnectedness of life and business while emphasising the payment provider’s role in supporting customers in this new reality. It’s also designed to reflect American Express’ global offering, which encompass 112 million business and consumer card members; 18 million merchant partners; plus hundreds of acquirers and 120 banking partners across 130 countries.

The work incorporates refreshed brand iconography, including a new hand-drawn card design and visual identity, while multimedia creative assets have a heavy emphasis on customers and sub-interpretations of the top-line tagline. The company is going hard on communication, with advertising scheduled to feature across mobile, social platforms, podcasts, TV, cinema and outdoor as well as some high-impact channels not specifically disclosed.

It’s also the first time American Express has had a single brand platform across US and international markets and which talks to both consumers and businesses.

AMEX VP of brand and experiences, Naysla Edwards, told CMO the brand relaunch was triggered by a need to better reflect the changing nature of business and personal activity, and to ensure customers saw a consistent platform and information no matter where they travelled, or which channel they were exposed to. The new-look logo and brand identity is also designed be more digitally appropriate.

The brand platform was devised in partnership with mcgarrybowen globally and localised via Ogilvy in conjunction with Mindshare. It features advertising directed by Lane Accord, and imagery shot by photographer, Mattieu Young.

Edwards said she had heavy involvement from the beginning of the brand overhaul nearly two years ago, working alongside her New York colleagues as well as creative agency partner. In addition, local and regional customer insights were used to inform the brand development.  

AMEX has kicked off media activity through all channels simultaneously, debuting three TVCs locally – ‘Manifesto’, which reflects on company heritage; ‘The world awaits’, which is how the brand supports customers in big and small ways; and ‘Balancing the balance; which concentrates on that hybrid lifestyle. Edwards noted the local team employed Australian actress, Rachel Griffith, to do the voiceover for the latter creative.

Social content will also be relevant to the local market, and take cues both from the TVCs while also involving specifically designed creative.

To coincide with the local launch, American Express has announced it’s investing $1 million into Australia’s music scene over the next 12 months, a move aimed at recognising the fact music is “entwined in the lives of our customers”, Edwards said.

“With our work and personal lives becoming increasingly blended, music is the art form that ties it all together,” she said.

The America Express Music Backers Program is open to businesses, venues and artists in the music industry and will provide financial support, mentorship and tools to help them succeed. It’s also focused on coming up with new ways to connect music fans with music-based experiences. AMEX has partnered with local players such as Live Nation, AEG and Sounds Australia as part of the program.

Selina’s venue in Coogee has been named the first recipient of the funding, and will host a live music experience featuring international band, The Killers, and local artist, Alex Cameron, on 9 May.

“As a global business with 168 years’ worth of experience, and 64 years in Australia, we’ve witnessed the transformation that’s occurred in the lives of our customers over this time,” Edwards said.

“We’ve increasingly seen the lines between life and work blur and people living experience-rich, blended lives, moving effortless between work and play.

“As a company that’s built its legacy on the relationships we have with our customers. We want to show them that they can count on us to back them to live their best lives.”

The company said the new taglines: Don’t Do Business / Don’t Live Life Without It reflect the highly successful ‘Don’t Leave Home Without Them’ tagline introduced by American Express in 1973 to promote travellers cheques.


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