Why Teachers Mutual Bank launched a new digital-first banking brand

Leader for the mutual banking group's new Hiver brand details the process taken to create a new digital-first banking proposition

A desire to grow market penetration and attract a younger essential worker demographic has seen Teachers Mutual Bank launch a dedicated digital-first banking brand, Hiver, this month.  

Teachers Mutual Bank chief digital bank officer, Carolyn Murphy, told CMO the group has always strived to be an early mover in terms of evolving technical capabilities for members.

“With the impacts and acceleration of digital in 2020, it provided us with an opportunity to implement a change in our business strategy without impacting our existing member base and ecosystem,” she said. “Hiver is about growing our market penetration further in regard to assets and deposits, while allowing us to significantly improve time to serve members and reduce cost of service by combining digital and simplicity. It’s about delivering a simple service proposition that works every time.”

Supporting Hiver are underlying technology improvements Murphy said allowed the business to remove some of the legacy and complexity behind traditional banking. The Hiver offering debuts with a digital onboarding capability, plus different transaction and saver propositions. It’s also debuting with a 1 per cent cashback offer on groceries and transport, a measure designed to give back essential workers as they conduct their banking transactions.

In addition, Hiver plans to have a digital card issuance available shortly, along with credit offerings including personal and car loan products.

Hiver now sits alongside Teachers Mutual Bank’s other industry focused brands: Firefighters Mutual Bank, Health Professional Bank, Teachers Mutual Bank and UniBank. Collectively, the 55-year-old mutual banking group has more than 210,000 members and $9 billion in assets.

However, unlike these other industry specific brands, Murphy said Hiver is designed to support all essential worker groups as a digital-first bank.

“We are looking at this to resonate particularly with the 18-35-year-old demographic, who are well versed in technology and mobile, and are aiming to be more progressive than what a traditional conservative bank would be,” she continued. “Hiver is still focused on essential workers but playing to the younger demographics who don’t necessarily feel the same way about a branch footprint and who are keen to access new technologies and self-service.  

“We tried to build the brand around simplicity and the services working every time and make it real time and easy.”  

Building a brand from scratch

To create Hiver, Teachers Mutual Bank worked with VMLY&R to build a new connected brand ecosystem, from business casing through to proposition, customer and brand experience design and go-to-market plan and creative campaign.

“It was a multi-layered process to not just select the name but also build the brand that sits around the bank,” Murphy explained. “We needed to land four attributes in terms of the name, look and feel, tone and language, visual identity and value proposition we were delivering.

“The primary one for us was around belonging. As an essential worker, you are really aligned to your community and are serving the community, so you are really connected to that. Belonging needed to be at the forefront of binging the brand to life.”  

The second attribute was simplicity in Hiver’s service model and technology. Murphy said the third attribute was being modern and different to conservative banking brands, while the fourth was the emphasis on digital-first.

“Knowing our heritage was around people and relationships, we wanted to bring a real sense of humanity and life to that digital experience,” she added.  

As part of the process, Teachers Mutual Bank originally came up with 42 different names before testing three. The one that came back originally was ‘Hive’, which Murphy said was simple to understand, clearly represented community and demonstrated a collective working together for a common goal and shared outcome. Yet legal and trademark restrictions took the name off the table.

“We had to play with the name and ended up with Hiver,” Murphy said. “The premise is it takes the teamwork of a whole community of bees to ensure a hive thrives. Hiver represents this interconnectedness of an important group of people: Essential workers.”

As a mutual bank, the majority of funding for Teachers Mutual Bank’s brands comes from member deposits.

“That means the ‘Hivers’ – our members - can contribute towards home loans of paramedics, teachers and other eligible members. The more the hive grows, the more we can invest in members, whether that be lower rates, investments or customer service,” Murphy said.

To inform the brand, value proposition and experience, Teachers Mutual Bank conducted qualitative and quantitative customer research in May and September around Australian essential workers. This asserted 87 per cent did not choose their profession for the money, but because they want to help other people.

Such an insight then formed the focus of the launch campaign, ‘The Betterers’ Bank’, a real word which Murphy said injected a bit of fun into the Hiver brand approach. The aim of the campaign is to position the digital bank as supporting those making the world a better place. It’s also about communicating who and what Hiver stands for, establishing brand awareness, driving interest and prompting member sign-up and uptake, she said.

The overarching campaign is digital led, using hyper-targeting techniques to market directly to essential worker audiences across social media channels and online display advertising.

“We spent a lot of time getting to know that audience via the research to understand how we can support them,” Murphy said, adding the research report has been distributed through media.

Over coming months, Hiver plans to release variations of its campaign, but change the product focus to its forthcoming credit product range, including personal and car loans. Initially, Hiver has debuted with an everyday transaction-style account plus a bonus saver account.

A number of metrics are being used to gauge brand success. Growth is one, the other is about proving out the technology. Both new enterprise platforms and Web platforms have been employed within the business, Murphy said.

“We look at Hiver as that opportunity to introduce new tech we can also leverage across the business over time,” she said. “And it’s all about an iterative approach to keep improving.”

As part of the development process, a number of employees were seconded into the Hiver delivery team.

“As we go forward, we’ll have a dedicated team, but also back fill some of those other roles,” Murphy said. “It’s been a great opportunity for existing teams to focus on a new initiative.

“Everyone was really excited by doing something differently and really bought in. We have been operating agile and new ways of working and everyone was really open, which was great to see.”  

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