Starling Bank, the five-year old, mobile-only challenger bank, is boosting its brand-building efforts as it looks to move beyond its start-up status and become a significant player in the market.

“We’re not a start-up anymore, certainly not. We’re definitely a scale-up,” according to Chief Growth Officer Rachael Pollard.

Starling, fully licensed and regulated since 2016, aims to offer consumers the convenience of an app along with the peace of mind of a high-street financial brand – an approach that seems to be working as it has been rated Britain’s best bank for the last two years at the British Bank Awards (run by review platform Smart Money People).

And now it’s stepping up its brand-building efforts, introducing its first TV ad a couple of months ago as it seeks to continue its rapid growth, having more than doubled its customer numbers during 2019 (it now claims more than one million).

“For us, it’s about finding our space, defining that and learning how to articulate ourselves into the world,” Pollard told the recent MAD//Fest event in London. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Starling Bank: Where technology meets long-term brand building.)

She noted, for example, that that people do not necessarily want a bank that’s just “cool and trendy”, they also want a bank that they can trust with their money.

Starling’s research has highlighted the frustration people feel as a result of the “tedious processes” that can define the customer experience of large banks.

This is especially the case for small business owners, who often feel burdened by needing to visit a branch for even simple tasks such as depositing a cheque.

“We are amazed at how many small business owners and micro-businesses have to spend so much time and money in branches,” Pollard reported. “It’s insane. It’s hopelessly out of date.”

The ad, soundtracked by a version of the Nina Simone classic Feeling Good, stresses the speed and simplicity of the Starling offer and marks the first time the brand has “gone to market with something bigger and bolder that’s not purely performance channels”, she said.

“This is who we are (and) we really want to own this space,” Pollard said of the ad.

Sourced from WARC