As chief branding officer and executive vice president of Lombard Odier Group, one of the oldest Swiss private banks with roots that date back to 1796, Fabio Mancone spearheaded a campaign that made everyone in the industry sit up and take notice.
The first interaction most people have with a brand or company they’re seeking information about is their website. And if the company is a Swiss private bank with a 222-year-long history, you kind of expect a rather conservative and conventional approach – certainly not a progressive design with compelling articles like “How can private investment take space travel to new frontiers?”, “Can animal agriculture develop whilst tackling climate change?”, and “How can safeguarding our oceans help save lives?”
These fresh perspectives on pertinent social issues, a new corporate identity, a smart social media presence and an award-winning advertising campaign under the theme “Rethink Everything” are just a few of the exciting brand touch-points that form part of a dynamic initiative launched in 2016 under the stewardship of Fabio Mancone to modernise the Swiss private bank’s image.
The debonair Mancone himself comes with mighty fine credentials, replete with an international career spanning more than 25 years in Europe and the USA. Among his professional feats are executive roles at Unilever, Kraft Foods, L’Oréal (Lancôme, Armani), Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and SMCP (Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot brands). His diverse background in marketing and executive management positions have provided him with the unique ability to straddle two worlds.
By his own admission, he is left-brained and right-brained – blessed with both a creative mindset as well as analytical and methodical abilities. “Creating something really dynamic creatively and then it has no impact… it’s really difficult. What you have to do is take what you know and feel about the brand, and then see what the market needs. Then you join those to create something that makes sense. I have had so many experiences, worked in so many countries, met so many people and worked with so many brands that at the end you kind of like develop this sensibility that comes together with your skills set,” he says.
This meant that he was cut out for the position he was appointed in at the prestigious Lombard Odier in 2015, responsible for the company’s brand positioning and image across all its regions and businesses. The scope of his work is encompassing, including the development and management all of the brand-related strategies across corporate identity, marketing, advertising, internal and external communication, PR, events, sponsorships, and even client experience.
“A brand is a unique conjunction of emotional values and rational values,” Mancone explains. “There is a link that goes beyond just product and price – it’s about relationships. The key point is the emotional side to it, not just the functional side. For brands that get it right, there is so much respect that it’s actually called ‘equity’. In all the elements – profits, balance sheets – you have to take into account the areas of intangibles, and the intangible element that’s the most relevant is the brand itself. It can be worth colossal figures.”
With so much history and legacy embedded in Lombard Odier’s more than two centuries of business, Mancone set out to do his home-work. “That’s what we do as marketers – we look at where the brand or the founders of the company came from and then ensure it all remains relevant with changing consumers and changing markets. With Lombard Odier, I told the Partners I can’t believe they have 222 years of history and heritage… that’s something any fashion or luxury brand would kill for!
“Together with the Partners, we went through the whole history and made sure that we understood what made the company different then. We found that there were seven moments in those 222 years of history when the company was forced to reinvent itself – be it because there was a big financial crisis, or a war, or another war… The world we live in today is completely unpredictable too, and that’s how we came up with the tagline ‘Rethink Everything’,” Mancone explains.
“The strength of the campaign is that it works very well with clients, because it’s intriguing and it makes people think. But it works super well inside the company too, because we really use that to say to people, ‘You better change before you have to… because that’s the way it is.’ That’s the strength of a good campaign – it’s able to be a real umbrella for the whole company and the way the business runs. It’s inside out.”
A very successful part of the campaign has been a savvy social media presence, which Mancone credits to a daring approach. “The biggest revolution comes when you are able to talk about things that are relevant for your clients, things that stimulate engagement. In our sector, we are number one on LinkedIn, and we have also experimented with something very different [for private banking] – Instagram. Whatever we do, it must stimulate conversation. We have a point of view, a different perspective on the world, and that’s where we share it. That’s what builds that bonding. Marketing is common sense, and common sense is life.”
According to him, the biggest current branding trend he has observed is that it has become more transcendent, encompassing all the touch-points between a brand or a company and its clients. “There’s so much talk about experiential marketing… I recently heard that company CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) are now even being called ‘Chief Experience Officers’ – or CEOs, which obviously creates confusion with the Chief Executive Officers.
“Indeed, that’s the biggest change, the fact that every part of the journey is now focused around the customer experience. To me, the next frontier is to personalise and customise the experience. We need to work with our IT teams to ensure we have our own channels of communication with our customers, figure out ways to push content that is personalised…”
Lombard Odier’s ‘Rethink Everything’ campaign represents a radical shift in how traditional financial services institutions communicate their brand messages and, apart from getting noticed by their peers, has certainly also achieved what it set out to do – to challenge the status quo, and to provoke thought.
Lombard Odier is a leading global wealth and asset manager which had total client assets of US$276 billion at June 30, 2018. In December 2014, Kasikornbank and Lombard Odier announced that they formed a strategic partnership to allow KBank Private Banking clients access to Lombard Odier’s global investment solutions and wealth management expertise.