Building Brand Buzz in Banking Through Unexpected Partnerships

Learn why and how smart collaborations can get results.

Nymbus Labs
6 min readOct 25, 2022
Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

When Kentucky Fried Chicken teamed up with the utilitarian footwear brand Crocs in 2020, the unexpected partnership left some marketers scratching their heads. How did these unrelated brands stand to benefit from producing chicken-bucket-themed (and scented) shoes?

The answer? Attention. Lots of attention.

With a boost from popular artists like Kim Kardashian and MLMA, the $60 limited-edition Crocs sold out in less than 30 minutes. The conversation that began months before they went on sale is still going on today in communities that appreciate chicken, comfy shoes or simply fun marketing.

Candid, irreverent humor is one of the threads that binds young consumers to brands — and these types of strategic creator partnerships can be powerful for financial brands, too. When done right, unique partnerships build mindshare among Millennials and Gen Z, generate buzz and can even help make the world a better place — all while delivering great returns.

The power of partnerships lies in their appeal to the younger demographic. Millennials and Gen Z respond well to personal referrals and humor, even when the topic is somewhat serious (like banking).

Studies indicate young people see as many as 10,000 ads per day, so it’s not surprising 79% say they trust brands whose images aren’t Photoshopped, and 84% trust a company more if it uses real customers in advertising. And more than half of young clients say they would switch banks to find one with a better commitment to environmental and social causes or diversity, equity and inclusion.

Nurturing robust partnerships with other brands, influencers and community organizations can have many tangible benefits for a financial organization. These include:

With so much opportunity, it’s no wonder large and small financial institutions are investing in partnerships to build buzz about their products and services. And getting started can be as simple as offering perks or rewards.

Turn Heads — Generate Buzz

Frequent flyer programs, first established by United Airlines in 1972, are partnership programs at heart. Providing rewards like discounted or free hotels, rental cars and restaurant meals for airline customers who accumulate points means selecting the right partners to work with at the right moment to incentivize flights and reinforce the brand.

Modern partnerships are all about turning heads — even if the collaborators are unexpected. In fact, that split-second, “Huh?” is part of the charm and power of some of the most successful partnerships. Case in point: When Arby’s teamed up with Old Spice for their “defeat the meat sweats” campaign, we didn’t know whether to become ill or laugh (we chose the latter!).

Citizens Bank, for instance, enlisted Oscar-winning musician Questlove and his band, The Roots, to bring attention to its “Made Ready” campaign. The multimedia launch coincided with the release of a new song and music video by The Roots, and it garnered more than 850,000 impressions, 70,000 comments and earned media stories in outlets like Questlove’s organic followers alone watched the song’s accompanying music video more than 6 million times. That’s millions of young prospective customers paying attention to Citizens Bank, tuned in to its latest campaign designed to attract their business.

But successful partnerships don’t have to involve a big-name celebrity or whacky promotion.

Digitally focused ZYNLO Bank leveraged an influencer marketing strategy to help launch its suite of offerings to a younger demographic. Hiring mid-level Instagrammers added up to big results for ZYNLO’s savvy campaign. To promote its savings round-up feature, ZYNLO worked with influencers like:

  • Homeowners @thegritandpolish who are renovating their Washington farmhouse, and more than 90,000 followers are watching them do it. They demonstrated how they’re building savings while spending on carpentry and plumbing fixtures using ZYNLO.
  • Foodie @kimlycurry who showed how ZYNLO helps her save while dining out for #tacotuesday — a post her 50,000+ followers just ate up.
  • Financial guru @citygirlsavings who helped her almost 40,000 followers set 2022 money goals — including opening an account with ZYNLO to save more.

None of these influencers have the reach of an A-list movie star, but their endorsements are seen as more credible by young followers. The collective buzz they generated led to an increase of relevant engagements on ZYNLO’s engaging financial services platform.

Authentic partnerships — with relevant and not necessarily large creators — can snowball into major brand recognition, particularly when collaborators and prospective clients live the same values.

Community Partnerships: Doing Good & Looking Good

For your efforts to resonate with clients, it’s important to make your purpose a verb and take action. One example is City First Bank’s robust social partnership with the Contract with Black America Institute and the NFL. This collaboration supports the NFL’s efforts toward economic equity and deepens its partnerships with Black-owned businesses. This commitment has led the League to allocate some $125 million to businesses like City First, Ariel Investments and Cover Communications among others.

In Hawaii, the Wai’anae Community Redevelopment Corporation includes MA’O Organic Farms, Kamehameha Schools and Central Pacific Bank in collaboration to grow and promote MA’O’s social enterprise program and farm.

This project has had a significant benefit for native islanders, raising the partners’ profile and benefitting local people, too. The partnership has resulted in a 236-acre land acquisition that allowed the farm to become a community steward of critical agricultural resources and grow its native youth leadership programs as well as add jobs, housing, and more.

A big takeaway from both examples: Extend your mission to do good through all aspects of your brand, not just your external communications. A mission that is lived by your entire organization is a mission that will inspire customers to join in.

Things to Keep in Mind When Picking a Partner

When choosing a prospective collaborator, be sure they’ll appeal to your target audience and that your campaign stays true to your core brand. Don’t sacrifice your mission to work with a trendy partner, or you’ll risk promoting your services to a disinterested audience.

Keep in mind the following when selecting a partner for your next collaboration:

  • Different skill sets: Be sure your partner adds value, complimenting your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mutual benefit: All partners should stand to gain from the collaboration, so when you’re looking to grow an audience, be sure you don’t already share the same group.
  • Relevance: Pick a partner that is likely to appeal to your audience and they’ll be more apt to connect with the collab. Partnerships that benefit consumers are even more relevant.
  • Similar core values: Ensure your values connect so you audiences can, too.
  • Similar objectives: Agreement on goals like audience growth, sales or media attention are crucial to ensuring mutual benefit.
  • Expect to pay them: Collaborations aren’t free. Being associated with your brand is just one benefit. Remember that influencers have bills to pay too, and your timely payment is appreciated.

Partnerships with other brands, influencers, and community organizations are now essential for modern financial institutions working to attract desirable young customers. When done well, brand partnerships can earn the attention of mainstream media outlets and spread to other demographics in ways that amplify your impact beyond social media.

Even modest investments in brand partnerships can pay off, as engaging creators who have your target audience’s attention can lead to substantial growth. Brands looking to broaden their audience, build buzz and add value should create smart partnerships and expect great returns.

If you’re in the market for a technology partner to help your financial institution evolve, Nymbus can help. Request a demo today.



Nymbus Labs

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