SYDNEY: Australian financial brands should "connect at a human level" in a time of heightened financial anxiety, according to a senior marketer at NAB, a 'big four' Australian bank.

Michael Nearhos, General Manager of Brand Experience at NAB, addressed this topic at the recent Mumbrella360 event in Sydney, where he reported that the bank had seen "a level of anxiety in consumer land that was unprecedented for many years".

"In the banking category, there's often a perception that banks just think about themselves or just think about money. We had to show people that we cared for people as well," he said. (For more details , read Warc's exclusive report: Putting the 'Heart' into Australian finance: NAB opts for authenticity and inclusion.)

"Our research shows that there is a real desire to connect at a human level," he continued. "You can still connect through technology. It's about how you connect.

"There was this desire for customers to have a better relationship and connection," he explained, noting the desire for authenticity and relatability in a climate of financial stress.

"That's a really important part of our brand and where we're playing at the moment – we're really trying to unpack the life beyond it and see people as more than a transaction, more than a product."

The bank turned to its own customers to tell their stories in a series of 30-second television commercials as part of its 'More Than Money' brand launch, a major brand repositioning and the company's largest in history.

"We are really trying to use a very authentic customer-driven strategy using customer stories to tell our story," Nearhos said.

"We wanted it to be as much about what we did as about what we said."

Data sourced from WARC