When most people think of exciting, disruptive tech, the last place that comes to mind is the staid world of banking. Resistant to change since cavemen chiseled the first deposit slip, the banking industry’s reputation of glacial innovation is well earned. Of course, this was borne out of some necessity: in years past, one of the scariest words a bank customer could hear (besides “overdrawn”) was “disruption”. Banks were meant to be secure, stable, trusted, and unchanging.
Of course, that all changed during the global financial crisis. Consumer confidence in their banks crashed almost as hard as stock markets. At the same time, smartphones were slowly taking over the world and reinventing industries left and right. Over time, these factors led to the rise of the “Challenger Banks”: startups armed with the technology, ability, and desire to work directly with their customers to build the bank of the future.
The UK served as the global hotbed for these challenger banks and, in 2015, one in particular captured the hearts and minds of young brits: Monzo. Initially launched as a grassroots movement and crowdfunding campaign, in 4 short years Monzo grew to over 2 million customers in the UK, adding 200,000 each month (the fastest growing bank in the country – challenger or established) and a valuation well over £3 Billion. Even in the land of Unicorns, Monzo’s meteoric rise read like an unbelievable fairytale.
In 2019, firmly established as a household name in the UK, Monzo turned its attention to the United States. While the consumer profile looked similar to their rabid fanbase at home, this “New World” represented a return to square one for Monzo. Faced with the challenge of how to best introduce itself to American press and consumers, Monzo turned to Clarity San Francisco.
From there, Monzo’s senior leadership worked closely with Clarity to establish a press strategy and messaging fully tailored to the US market. Despite their reputation overseas, Clarity understood that stateside media would not simply roll out the red carpet for Monzo’s arrival on American shores. After all, the US banking industry has shown itself particularly adept to fending off challengers in the past, and press are not unaware of the battle ahead for Monzo.
To combat this skepticism, Clarity developed a strategy for Monzo that included in-person meetings for Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield with press across the spectrum from the Wall Street Journal, to TechCrunch, to Reuters. For each briefing, messaging was closely researched and tailored to speak to the benefits of Monzo while understanding the nuances of each publication and the difficult questions the team would likely face.
As a result, the briefings (and resulting coverage) could not have been more positive on the future prospects for Monzo in the US.
Here were (just some) of the results: