Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Capital One Bank - Network Rollout (600 branches)

Yet another of the large US retail banking networks goes digital...

Word on the street is that Capital One, who operate a retail branch network of roughly 600 locations primarily in New York, Texas, and Louisiana (a geographically disparate combination of the former Hibernia and North Fork banks purchased by Capital One over the past few years), are in the process of deploying digital signage on a network-wide basis.

As seen in a grand re-opening photo above, we understand that screens will be located primarily behind the teller counter, and will display a mix of Capital One promotions along with the omnipresent information feeds (news, weather, etc.). In New York, where North Fork had liberally deployed LCD screens playing network news in ATM vestibules, street-facing windows, and waiting areas in addition to teller counters, we would (logically) expect the use of digital signage to be more pervasive.

It is believed that New Ground, the venerable bank-focused retail design and merchandising firm, will provide software, content, and integration services.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

M&T Bank - Small rollout?

Although it is not clear what (or how far) this program has been deployed, we were very impressed with this prototype branch for M&T Bank in the greater Washington D.C. area. M&T, who are partly owned by Allied Irish and who operate a ~700 branch network along the eastern seabord and into western New York, commissioned its new branch design last year following a refresh of its overall visual identity and target customer experience.

As is evident from the photos, digital signage is the key merchandising element in the new branch design. Screens are located behind the teller counter--nicely offset by a simple gradation in the paint color--as well as near the checking writing desk, both of which are visible from the bank lobby (while unrelated to our topic, we can't help but also appreciate the back-lit acryllic surrounding the ATMs...quite the visual impact!). Content on the screens consists of bank messaging interspersed with frequently updated,news, weather, and sports information.

Since the launch of M&T's new branch prototype, we understand that the design has been incorporated into 50 or so denovo branches and that a number of the merchandising elements have been deployed to the network. While the extent to which the digital signage elements have been deployed is not clear, we had heard word of a mid-size pilot (15-25 branches) in the M&T network previously. As always, any confirmation or additional information would be much appreciated!

Branch design, the merchandising system, and communications strategy were provided by BrandPartners, and digital signage software and content services are believed to be provided by Inlighten.

(Photos taken from the BrandPartners website)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

St. George Bank (Australia) - Partial Rollout

Over the past few years a number of the leading Australian banks--many of whom are now consolidating--invested heavily in upgrading their branch infrastructure in an effort to regain direct relationships with their customers, as the 'broker' model had made inroads in home lending, small business, and other key customer/product segments. St. George Bank, long viewed as the "fifth" of the "four pillars" (the four large banks who control >80% of most financial product categories), was chief among them.

Starting with its branch-of-the-future prototype in 2007, St. George began investing in branch upgrades and refurbishments across their ~500 branch network, with the key objective being to create an environment more conducive to sales / exploratory discussions. Elements of the new plan included a more open floorplan which minimized barriers between customers and staff, better training for sales personnel, and both dynamic and interactive digital signage elements to prompt enquiries and facilitate sales conversations.

Screens displaying product promotions, community news, and providing updates on customer queue position ("now serving...") are located above teller stations, and large-scale plasmas (50-65") are placed in windows in high-traffic locations. St. George's digital signage content engine is integrated both with its queue management software (to drive queue prompts) as well as its CRM engine, which dictates what product advertisements should be displayed at what location.

Larger, higher-volume locations also receive a "lifestyle wall" treatment--grouped into themes such as simplification and retirement--which includes a series of interactive touchscreens, which enable customers to access product information on a self-directed basis or, more commonly, serve as sales tools for staff to conduct more detailed product conversations. Interactive screens are supported by collateral materials, located proximately on the wall.

It is not known what branch design, software, content, and integration partners St. George uses, nor is it clear in the wake of St. George's acquisition by Westpac (who have their own digital signage solutions) how far the program will continue to be deployed. It is, however, an excellent example of how digital merchandising elements can play a pivotal tactical role in changing the nature (and/or frequency) of important branch interactions.
If our Australian readers have additional information to share, it would be much appreciated!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lehman Brothers LED (now Barclays blue)

During the current financial crisis, one unexpected benefit of digital signage has come to the forefront -- the ability to rebrand corporate branding and promotional messaging immediately following an acquisition.

In the wake of Barclays' takeover of Lehman Brothers' prime brokerage and investment management businesses a few weeks ago, Barclays immediately washed the LED spanning the block-long facade of Lehman's headquarters with Barclays blue.

Unless Barclays retains Lehman's creative department, passersby will greatly miss the element of visual drama the sign added to its block. Animations--which were coordinated across all the LED panels--incorporated news feeds, corporate branding writ large, and visually appealing full motion video, often of landscape or nature scenes (eg. fields of wheat swaying in the wind, waves).

The original LED design and installation was overseen by Untwist Technology, a NY-based A/V integration firm. The LED manufacturer and content processor vendors are not known.
(Photos taken from news publications and Untwist Technology website)

Monday, October 20, 2008

HSBC - Times Square LED

While our primary area of interest is branch-related digital signage (as the blog title would suggest), we will be covering a few especially impactful out-of-home installations over the next few weeks, the first of which is HSBC's 45' x 52' LED sign, located at the heart of Times Square in New York.

In use for the past 5-6 years, with a significant technology refresh in 2005, HSBC is currently employing it to reinforce its "The World's Local Bank" brand positioning, and to rasie awareness of its direct bank offerings (high-yield savings, online checking). Content is made up of full-motion video and animated versions of HSBC's print advertisements, including time-sensitive rate offers. One recent content example is featured below:
Content development, software, operations, and technology support are provided by New York-based Show & Tell Productions.

(content storyboard taken from Show & Tell website)

BankWest (Australia) - Partial Rollout

While it is unclear what will occur post-acquisition by Commonwealth Bank, we thougt it merited noting for now that BankWest (Halifax Bank of Scotland's Australian subsidiary) adopted digital signage as a key component of its merchandising strategy when it unveiled a new retail branch format two years ago.

The branches, which were designed to capture attention and generate interest in "true" retail locations -- shopping malls and highly pedestrianed urban areas vs. sharing a parking lot near grocery stores or standing alone at intersections -- adopted a number of concepts pioneered by Commerce Bank in the US, including a bold color palette and better lighting, longer hours, free coin counting, and more promotional marketing. The stores also sell related non-financial merchandise, such as piggy banks ("money boxes"), personal accounting software, and financial advice books.
Scant information is available about the marketing and technology partners who support(ed) the effort, nor does the single but it is believed that the digital signage network made it into 50-100 locations.

ING - Orange Cafe (additional photos)

After our initial post on the ING Cafe in Chicago, a reader was kind enough to share a few additional photos -- this time of locations in New York and St. Cloud, MN -- and some information on the technology solutions supporting it.

Having experimented with a number of different vendors over the years (Gensler, John Ryan, etc.), ING seems to have settled on Rise Vision, of Toronto, as the provider of software and integration services for its digital signage network. Rise Vision nows drives the screen network in each of ING's North American locations, with a number of others (Honolulu, a 2nd Manhattan location) on the books for the coming year.

In terms of screen positioning, the common elements for all stores are digital merchandising placed in proximity to the cafe counter, and internet kiosks for online banking located in the seating areas. In recent stores, ING has also experimented with exterior signage and interactive elements, which enable users to select from a series of informational / educational content. No common screen vendor was identified.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ING - The Orange Cafe

Close to the Magnificent Mile in the heart of downtown Chicago you might notice this bold new store. You could be forgiven for a moment for thinking that it must be one of those new fresh juice bars but no, believe it or not this is the new ING bank cafe.

Firstly the designers have used the ING orange very effectively on both the exterior and interior, the store is immediately noticeable. Once inside you might think you are in a trendy coffee shop on the West Coast. The teller line is gone and has been replaced with a coffee and juice bar, and the furniture looks like it is straight out of a show room,

The employees are not tellers but instead servers that will take your order for a coffee and if you are hungry will whip up some light food from the menu. I must say that it all tasted rather good.

Installed on the walls are plasma screens displaying a mix of CNN, and custom developed ING content. The ING branded content looked a little simplistic, some basic ING product information and stock market feeds.

After getting my coffee and a cake, I sat down at one of the complimentary internet terminals and browsed the ING homepage. After a short while I navigated to both Bank of America and Wachovia websites where I was able to login to my online banking accounts.

Also on show were leaflets that contained ING product information and even those seemed more interesting than usual. If I felt so inclined I could have brought home ING branded pens, cups and shirts for a small price.

This is a great example of how a bank can brand themselves as progressive, and yes maybe even cool.....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pinnacle Bank - 60 site rollout

In this time of limited rollouts in the banking arena we wanted to highlight a very good example of a digital signage rollout.

Pinnacle Bank, a regional bank based in Nebraska, has implemented a digital signage network in 60 of it's locations. Pinnacle has a portfolio of branches based in diverse locations. This means that Pinnacle needed the flexibility to target content based on a client base for each type of branch.

Each location will be installed with a branded enclosure housing a 32' vertical LCD screen. The fixture (shown above) is placed in the main lobby facing the teller line and waiting areas.

The content strategy has been developed to provide a better customer experience and inform customers about products. The loop will include a mix of product information, branded messages and local and national infotainment. The content seems to be a mix of flash and video and looks well developed.

The network is controlled using Nanonation's hosted solution. Pinnacle uses the Nanonation platform to share global content while also targeting content by group and by branch- for example, agricultural loan promotions only show in rural branches in farming communities.

We like this network. Pinnacle and Nanonation have implemented an effective network using a vertical 32' screen in a branded fixture with good content.

In fact the vertical 32' screen is very effective- both because of the size and the rotation. Others take note here, the 32' screen is about half of the cost of a 42' LCD and looks just as powerful.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Implications of the credit crisis on digital signage in banking?

It is hardly arguable that the US credit contagion having spread to a new scale--in terms of the breadth of asset classes impacted, its now-global footprint, and its impact on leading institutions. 25 years of consolidation in the US has seemingly occurred in the past two weeks...

Given that financial services firms have been among the most aggressive adopters of digital signage, it seems reasonable to wonder what knock-off effects the crisis may have on continued market growth and the signage vendor community

We have some very clear opinions on the topic, which will be shared in due course, but thought in the mean time we would open the question up for discussion.

Please share your thoughts in the comments....