CommunityBank of Texas had its start through a group of local investors with a single vision. The vision of bringing real hometown banking back to their communities. Hometown banking with hometown bankers who believe in highly personalized customer service and, who can make lending decisions for the community, right here in the community.
Since first opening in August 2007, CommunityBank of Texas has expanded our geographic footprint, more than doubling our locations in less than a year. New branches are already in the works to better serve the Southeast Texas region. And, we continue to experience unprecedented asset growth due to the community’s overwhelming response to locally owned, independent banking.
The Story of U: The Evolution of a Brand
Have you ever wondered how a company’s brand becomes a cultural icon? What makes an apple (with a bite missing no less) a global icon with cult-like status or a simple checkmark “swoosh” the mark of a competitive athlete (or athletic wannabe)?
It’s all about creating a brand experience … and with strategy, a little creativity, and sometimes just plain dumb luck, you end up with something more … something that connects a customer and company instantly and indelibly. At CommunityBank, our iconic U has, in its own way, begun to create that sort of cultural recognition. In fact, our U has already become so inseparable from the CommunityBank brand, you may not remember it was nowhere to be seen when we opened our doors five years ago.
As for the stories behind the Apple and Nike logos, more on those shortly.
Rewind for a moment back to 2007, when in response to big banking gone bad, CommunityBank of Texas burst back onto the banking scene proudly, and loudly, proclaiming “We’re from the Community.” Our rallying cry, then, was a toe-tapping, two-stepping take-no-prisoners anthem sung by none other than award-winning country music recording artist Tracy Byrd – who kindly adapted his #1 country hit “We’re from the Country (and We Like It that Way)” for us. The resulting multi-media advertising campaign became a favorite with customers and earned the bank multiple marketing awards to boot.
As catchy as that jingle was, after several months, we were ready to elevate our brand to the next level – to go from “now” to “next” in advertising speak. “Now” was “community banking is back.” “Next” would focus the spotlight on how CommunityBank better serves customers than any other financial institution around.
Sometimes a great idea literally drops into your lap (think Newton’s Apple). Sometimes, there’s a well-defined creative process that brings a concept or idea to life. Usually, it’s a little of both. In partnership with our marketing firm, the creative process led us to push around ideas about how community banking truly benefits our communities, our neighbors, our local economy. Those answers we came up with were easy: When you bank where you live, you bank with people who know you, who know your business, who know the strengths and challenges of where you do business and who have the flexibility to develop solutions specifically for you. When you bank where you live, your dollars stay in the community to reinvest in the community, your neighbor’s dreams. When you bank where you live, it’s banking that’s all about you – the customer.
That’s when Newton’s apple hit. Every conversation circled back around to one single phrase that kept popping up: “when you bank where you live.” A bank where you live. Bank Where You Live. And there it was. CommunityBank of Texas. Bank Where You Live. We had gone from “now” to “next.”
A great branding statement is one thing. To tie it memorably to a brand, or in marketing jargon, “to make it sticky,” is quite another. In advertising, you only have a few seconds to get your message across. We needed a visual representation, a graphic look, that would be instantly recognizable, uniquely connected with CommunityBank, work in multiple advertising venues and most important, make it personal and meaningful for our customers. As so often is the case in advertising, sometimes the simplest idea is the strongest.
Our marketing firm again proved itself equal to the challenge. The design team changed the written form of “You” to the simple graphic “U”. With one letter and one color, “Bank Where U Live” spoke directly to our mission and dramatically spotlighted our bank’s focus -- you.
And what was the inspiration behind changing “You” to “U”? While we’d like to say it was a brilliant Mad Men-like stroke of genius, or perhaps the result of hours of scientific focus group research, we can’t. As is more often the case than not in advertising, the facts are usually less sexy. In our age of electronic communication, who actually takes the time to fully type out the word “you” anymore? Do U?
Oh, and the stories behind those Apple and Nike logos …
Apple’s first logo was a very complex illustration of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under the apple tree with the now famous fruit on its free-falling flight into the history books. Steve Jobs later had the design simplified to the single apple with a missing “bite,” supposedly a nod to computer geeks playing on the words “bite” and “byte.”
And it was a graphic design student who originally created the Nike logo for … $35. Though the company president wasn’t thrilled with it at the time, he went with it saying he “didn’t love it, but I think it will grow on me.” Twelve years later, he gave the former design student a diamond and gold “swoosh” ring … and stock valued at $600,000.