Synchrony Financial executive vice president and CMO Toni White has been celebrating the one-year anniversary of Synchrony’s IPO, and has a unique perspective on what it take to launch a new brand to both the public and an internal team. We recently talked with her about the impact of mobile and social on the retail banking brand, and what’s next.
CHIEF MARKETER: What big challenges have you faced over the last year?
TONI WHITE: The anniversary of our IPO on the New York Stock Exchange is July 31, and I think that branding a new, 80-year old company was a great accomplishment. You have a great, historic, iconic brand in GE Capital that we came from, but we really had to set a new path and identity. It started with a lot of work in understanding what our foundational strengths were that were part of our core—our financial stability, our operational excellence and our vast experience in the space. We’ve also been investing a lot in our digital platforms, around making the user experience super-seamless. And we launched our first national advertising campaign—our brand promise is “engage more.”
CM: How did you approach the challenge of establishing a new brand with clients, as well as your internal staff?
WHITE: We did was a lot of research with our partners to understand how they really felt about us as a company and how we do business together. We wanted to let them know that the day-to-day people they were dealing with would not be changing. We handled the other corporate-type branding stuff with a completely separate group of people. I think the biggest compliment we received from partners was that they never would have known that we were going through this, and that’s because we kept it separate. We’ve had great partnerships and we received a lot of great feedback from them throughout the process.
CM: How is the role of mobile evolving and impacting Synchrony’s marketing plans?
WHITE: We’re definitely seeing adoption rise with the ability to do everything with your phone or tablet. We have been working very hard to make sure that no matter what device that you’re interacting with us on, or whether you’re in-store, that you’re getting a good, holistic, seamless experience. We’re now building an infrastructure where 98% of what you could do in a desktop a year ago, now you can do on any device. People are on the move and they’re not always going to be home to make payments or check a balance.
CM: How are you leveraging social media?
WHITE: We’ve done some social media activities, and I still think we have a long way to go. We started to go out and put more curated content and research out there. I think we have a wealth of ideas that we want to bring out in the future.
CM: What’s next?
WHITE: With all that’s happening with digital wallets, we’re certainly engaging in conversations. From our perspective that’s going to be an area that’s going to continue to evolve. We have to be relevant to what our partners are looking for and what our customers are asking us to do to make their lives easier.